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  • Writer's pictureSámano Abogados

New Legislation. Federal Anticorruption in Public Contracts Law.

On June 12th of this year the Decree issuing the Federal Anticorruption in Public Contracts Law was published in the Official Federal Gazette of wich, the main objective is to punish the acts of corruption participated in by private parties that intervene in Public Contracts, whether of Mexican or foreign nationality, or whether individuals or companies.

Through this Law, Mexico strengthens the sanctioning scope of the anticorruption practices in the country by establishing as subjects thereof the private parties that are directly or indirectly involved, themselves or through another, in any act of government purchases that result in the assignment of an administrative contract to provide a service, to carry out a public work, or the sale of products, goods or merchandise.

This law is thus the other side of the coin of the Federal Law for Liability of Public Officials, by establishing mechanisms of investigation, accusation and sanction of private parties that are similar to those applicable to the employees of the Federal Government. The purpose of the law is to prevent and punish the acts of corruption they engage in, establishing an investigation mechanism that can be activated “ex officio” or at the “petition of a party”, including by anonymous accusation. Once the investigation is concluded, the competent authority may then initiate the Sanctioning Procedure against not only the private parties but also against the companies.

This order grants greater powers to the Ministry of Public Function, to the Internal Organs of Control of the Dependencies and Entities of the Federal Public Administration, and to the holders of the Areas of Complaints and Responsibilities of these bodies, to initiate investigations, sanctioning procedures and also to impose sanctions. These penalties can be very severe, since the fines can reach 124 million pesos (at the minimum wage in effect on this date) and prohibition on contracting for up to 10 years.

Two relevant procedural provisions are included: i) the suspension of the prohibition on contracting is prohibited while the corresponding defense is processed, and ii) a reduction of sanctions mechanism is created for the case that those implicated accept their responsibility and cooperate with the investigation. The imposition of sanctions is considered successive if the authorities issue more than one against the same person.

The public officials that know of reasons for an investigation or that in their opinion could give rise to an investigation must denounce the act and if they do not, they become responsible in terms of the Liabilities Law applicable to them and they will be considered accomplices or accessories of the private party involved.

This is a new law that substantially toughens the sanctions on those persons who engage in acts of corruption, specifically in public contracts, in order to act as a dissuasion from such acts.

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