MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexico’s first lady announced late Tuesday she was putting her multi-million-dollar private mansion on sale to end a controversy over her purchase of the property from a government contractor.
Pushing back at suggestions of a conflict of interest, Angelica Rivera issued a video on her website to say she had bought the house with her earnings from her days as a popular opera star.
Criticism of the mansion in a posh Mexico City neighbourhood has been an extra headache for President Enrique Pena Nieto, already struggling with protests over the government’s handling of the presumed massacre of 43 college students.
“In the face of accusations that have put my honour in doubt, I want to make it clear before all Mexicans that I have nothing to hide, that I have worked all my life and that thanks to that I am an independent woman,” Rivera said.
“I have always acted with integrity,” she said, adding that she had declared nearly $10 million in revenue in 2010, for which she paid almost $3 million in taxes.
Her explanation came hours after a visibly irate Pena Nieto said his wife would publicly clear up the “falsehoods” in the report by prominent journalist Carmen Aristegui.
“I will not allow this issue and finger-pointing to put in doubt the trust that the majority of Mexicans have put in me,” Pena Nieto said in a speech in his native central State of Mexico.
Rivera said she was selling the house – which she said was bought for $4 million – “because I don’t want this to continue being a pretext to insult and defame my family.”
But Rivera’s explanation did not appear to refute the main facts in the report, including that the house was built by and was still in the name of a government contractor’s subsidiary.
Revelations about the “White House” were made last week on Aristegui’s website, which said the house was built by a subsidiary of Grupo Higa, a company headed by Mexican mogul Juan Armando Hinojosa.