Mexican state official facing money laundering charges

CORPUS CHRISTI — A former Mexican state government official faces federal money laundering, bank fraud, and bribery charges after an indictment was unsealed earlier this week following a lengthy investigation.

Jose Manuel Sáiz-Pineda, 49, a former secretary of finance in Tabasco, Mexico, along with his wife and business associate, face up to 30 years in prison in connection with allegations that he conspired to launder illegally obtained funds and defraud banks, according to the news release.

Sáiz-Pineda served in Tabasco as secretary of finance for about five years from 2007 through 2012 under former Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier Melo, the release states.

Granier Melo, who was the Tabasco governor for more than six years until 2012, was arrested and accused by Mexican authorities in 2013 with corruption, embezzlement of public funds, and money laundering of more than a billion pesos.

The indictment, which was made public earlier this week after federal agents arrested Sáiz-Pineda’s wife, Silvia Beatriz Pérez-Ceballos, 49, at her residence in Sugar Land on Wednesday, the release states.

Perez-Ceballos made her initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Houston before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo who temporarily ordered her into custody pending a detention hearing set for next week, court records show.

In mid-April a federal grand jury in Corpus Christi returned a sealed indictment against him. Also charged was Sáiz-Pineda’s business associate in Mexico and in the United States, Martin Alberto Medina-Sonda, 44.

All are charged with conspiring to launder monetary instruments and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, according to the indictment.

Sáiz-Pineda and Medina-Sonda remain in custody in Mexico on separate but related criminal charges, according to the release.

Government officials claim Saiz-Pineda, his wife, and business associate, beginning in January 2006, and ending in April of this year, the trio committed bank fraud, were in possession of stolen funds, bribery of public officials, misappropriation, theft and embezzlement of public funds, according to the indictment.

“(Saiz-Pineda, Medina-Sonda, and Peréz-Ceballos,) knowingly and willfully combined, conspired, confederated and agreed together, with each other and with others unknown to the grand jury, to … execute, a scheme and artifice to defraud financial institutions to obtain moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by the (banks),” the indictment reads.

In addition to the criminal charges, government officials listed several properties owned by the trio that are subject to forfeiture including a condos purchased in Manhattan, in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, in Los Angeles, and a home in Houston to name a few, the indictment reads.

Federal authorities are also looking to claim a personal money judgment of $50 million.

An attorney for Saiz-Pineda was not listed and his next court date had not been set as of press time.

Read the charges against Saiz-Pineda.