Wednesday, July 28

Juan Collado: The sister and brother-in-law of Peña Nieto’s lawyer hid millionaire accounts in Andorra

Juan Collado arriving at the Special Prosecutor for Money Laundering Crimes of the Attorney General's Office in 2003.
Juan Collado arriving at the Special Prosecutor for Money Laundering Crimes of the Attorney General’s Office in 2003.Gilberto Molina / CUARTOSCURO

Lucía Collado and Mario Andrade, sister and brother-in-law, respectively, of Juan Ramón Collado, lawyer of the former president of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, appeared as holders of an account in the Banca Privada d ‘Andorra (BPA) that entered between 2015 and 2017 a total of 2.87 million euros. The deposit, opened in October 2013, was disguised under the code name 701920-Mayolus, according to the documents that EL PAÍS has had access to.

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The sister of the famous lawyer and her husband are being investigated within the framework of the case opened in the European Principality against Collado for an alleged crime of money laundering. An order of the magistrate María Ángeles Moreno on allegedly irregular millionaire operations, includes Lucia Collado and Andrade among the Dutch and Hong Kong people and companies investigated. The judicial resolution, of July 2019, orders the seizure of the accounts under suspicion.

The account of Juan Ramón Collado’s sister and brother-in-law collected 1.7 million from the instrumental company (without activity) Team Faith International Limited. It is a Hong Kong firm with an account also in BPA that this entity used to move funds from Mexican clients of the Andorran bank. The company channeled more than 9 million euros, according to a statement of suspicion from the Andorran Financial Intelligence Unit (UIFAND). A total of 7.3 went to three accounts of Juan Ramón Collado in the Andorran bank. The investigation has uncovered alleged contracts of Team Faith International with Collado and Mario Andrade for which the former charged, supposedly, 1,500 dollars per hour and the second, 50,000 per quarter.

To justify these transactions, the BPA claimed that the Hong Kong firm received funds from another company which, in turn, invoiced four Mexican clothing companies. These are the companies Grupo Corporativo Uror SA de C. V, Grupo Rilato, SA de CV, Blick Aus SA, de CV and Loom Textil México SA, de CV

According to the investigators, Andrade and Collado’s sister used this international financial scheme designed by the BPA that simulated textile trade transactions to hide their money in the European Principality. Peña Nieto’s lawyer also used this allegedly fictitious clothing sale scheme to justify the collection of 7.3 million in Andorra. Police reports from the European country describe this mechanism as “strongly opaque.”

Andorran Police report that reveals the international financial scheme used by the lawyer Juan Ramón Collado, his sister Lucía and her husband, Mario Andrade, to deposit funds in the European principality.
Andorran Police report that reveals the international financial scheme used by the lawyer Juan Ramón Collado, his sister Lucía and her husband, Mario Andrade, to deposit funds in the European principality.The country

Juan Ramón Collado’s brother-in-law justified to the bank’s compliance department – the body that decides whether to cancel deposits from suspicious clients – that the 2.87 million he moved in his account came from savings, payroll, business bonuses and benefits from a family company . In Know Your Client (KYC), the form that clients must fill out, Andrade wrote that he chose to deposit his money in that bank for “confidentiality, security and to maximize returns.” The bank’s analysts defined the lawyer’s brother-in-law in their file as “Juan Ramón Collado’s trusted man, VIP client of the bank.”

In the account opening documents, Lucía Collado introduced herself as a housewife and graduate in Communication. The compliance department classified as “high risk” the opening of the account of both. The couple landed on the bank by the hand of Joan Marc Masson, the one who was first responsible for BPA in Mexico.

Andrade, a Business Administration graduate, told BPA that he had worked for ten years in the law firm of his brother-in-law, Collado y Asociados, where he received a monthly salary of $ 40,678 and received a bonus of $ 81,350 in 2014. He also said that he was earning more than 5,000 euros a month for a position as director of government relations for the loan firm Libertad Servicios Financieros and that he had two properties valued at more than three million euros, according to internal BPA documents.

However, an analysis of the financial movements incorporated into the judicial investigation against Peña Nieto’s lawyer in Andorra maintains that Andrade and Lucía Collado have not proven to be the true owners of the funds they accumulated in the BPA. And that they have not credited a transfer in February 2015 of $ 431,100 to Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco (USA) as a signal to acquire a home in Florida of more than four million dollars.

Another point that draws the attention of the Andorran researchers is that Juan Ramón Collado’s sister and her husband deposited funds into the BPA from the Mexican exchange house Tíber and the trust company Grupo Fidemont. These are establishments that have been questioned by the Andorran Police for allegedly acting as screens to make it difficult to track money. “The inflow of funds through the concentration accounts of the Tíber exchange house denotes opaque operations indicative of money laundering”, indicates the latest report of the Andorran Police, of February 2020. Collado collected 90 million dollars in Andorra from houses exchange rates.

The investigations also indicate how, allegedly, the bank’s own managers helped the lawyer to launder. And they give as an example that the former head of BPA-Mexico Joan March Masson gave instructions in an email in June 2013 to two workers of the entity on how to transfer money from Collado to a numbered account in order to hide “the true beneficiary of the money”. The former executive recommended using a Dutch company to “break the link with Mexico” and “further protect the client.”

Andorran researchers have also focused on a transfer of $ 247,000 from Masson’s Panamanian company, Centurión Consultores Econónicos, to Andrade. Writings of the defense of the latter that appear in the secret case affirm that the income of that money is due to the return of a “loan, documented and real” from Andrade to the former director of BPA. Andorra asked Mexico for a rogatory commission (request for judicial assistance) in which it requested commercial information and the criminal records of Lucía Collado and her husband.

This newspaper has tried without success to obtain the version of the Andorran lawyer of Juan Ramón Collado, Lucía Collado and Mario Andrade.

The laundering investigation against Juan Ramón Collado in Andorra was reopened in 2019 after the lawyer was arrested in Mexico for money laundering and organized crime. The investigating judge of the case in the European country then decided to seize 93 million dollars from the lawyer and reactivate investigations that began in 2015 and were filed three years later when the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) of Mexico – which is what it was called then the Prosecutor’s Office – justified with reports revealed by this newspaper the origin of the controversial lawyer’s fortune. The current heads of the Mexican prosecutor’s office are investigating those responsible for those exculpatory reports.

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