Thursday 20 December 2012

Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez’s crash landing

Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez and his wife Bertha Cruz de la Cruz attended last Friday’s hearing (December 14) regarding an alleged plot in 2011 to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi, fallen Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s third son, into Mexico. Unless the judge requires further confirmation, the evidence phase of the trial is now over, with a decision expected in the New Year.

Mr. Esquino Núñez, a convicted criminal, has been considered the prosecution’s lead witness. However, two sources have informed La politica that during the hearing Esquino Núñez denied that he was a witness, and instead corrected the judge, stating that in fact he was the person who had brought the initial allegations to Mexican authorities.

                                                                                                                          (Photo enhanced from Univision News)

Reforma and other news outlets have reported in the past that a Mexican businessman in the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City on three sides, had informed State officials back in August 2011 of the plot. At that time this un-named businessman also gave them a copy of Saadi Gaddafi’s passport, plus information on three others – allegedly the younger Gaddafi’s wife and two children. Toluca, the main city in the State of Mexico, situated 45 minutes west of Mexico City, is where Esquino Núñez conducts much of his flight operations.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

U.S. Justice Department legitimizes corruption with $1.92 billion “tax” on HSBC

The news that the London-based bank HSBC has agreed to pay at least $1.92 billion to settle money laundering probes is a staggering admission that global criminal activity will be tolerated.

The settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, which will result in no criminal prosecutions and only a minimal attempt at redressing shady practices, comes after revelations that from 2006 to 2010 the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Colombia moved more than $881 million through the bank’s U.S. unit.

Together HSBC’s U.S. and Mexican operations turned a blind eye to $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in U.S. dollar purchases from HSBC Mexico.

Lanny A. Breuer gets tough

David S. Cohen, undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury, has admitted that no-one really knows how big or bad the problem was, given that, according to the New York Times, “trillions of dollars in wire transfers every year were excluded from its review, billions of dollars in ‘suspicious bulk cash’ entered its vaults, and hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘dirty money’ from Mexican drug proceeds went through the bank’s U.S. accounts.”

Time to examine Jenni Rivera’s financial records

In a press release from Mexico’s Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT), a spokesperson for Starwood Management LLC , the company that owned of the plane in which Jenni Rivera died, has said that the flight was for “promotional purposes”, as she intended to purchase it.

In an interview with the LA Times, Christian Eduardo Esquino Nuñez, 50, described himself as the “operations manager” of Starwood Management. In fact, Esquino Nuñez is the de facto owner of Starwood: the company is in his sister-in-law Norma Cruz de la Cruz’s name.

The passengers before take-off

This is a necessity as Mr. Esquino Nuñez has a criminal record in the United States. He was indicted in 1993 for drug smuggling in Florida, and was also convicted of aircraft fraud in 2005 after doctoring logbooks for six Mexican planes that he later sold in the United States.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Jenni Rivera pilots may be in violation of regulations – SCT on the hunt for Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez

The pilots on Mexican-American music superstar Jenni Rivera’s ill-fated flight may have been in violation of pilot fatigue regulations when they departed at about 3:30 a.m. on December 9.

The pilots, one of whom was 78 years old, had already pulled a 19 hour shift. In response to concerns over the effects of pilot fatigue, the FAA brought in more stringent regulations last year. Now -

The allowable length of a flight duty period depends on when the pilot’s day begins and the number of flight segments he or she is expected to fly...ranges from 9-14 hours for single crew operations.

These however are for commercial airlines in the United States, and are subject to a two year phase in - it is uncertain to what extent they might apply to a charter flying in Mexico.

Ms. Rivera's publicist, Arturo Rivera (unrelated) at Monterrey airport

The United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is assisting Mexico’s Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT). In response to a query from La politica, the NTSB’s Terry Williams deferred to the SCT, saying only that “The NTSB is providing assistance to the Mexican government, who (sic) is the conducting the investigation.”

Monday 10 December 2012

Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez to testify on Friday

The owner of the jet in which U.S.-born singer Jenni Rivera died is scheduled to testify on Friday, December 14, with regard to the alleged plot to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi to Mexico in 2011.

(For an update on Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez's appearance at the hearing see Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez’s crash landing).

Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez is the proprietor of Starwood Management, an aircraft leasing company run out of Toluca, approximately 45 minutes west of Mexico City. Ms. Rivera was en route to Toluca from Monterrey on a Starwood-owned Lear Jet on December 9 when it went down near Iturbide, Nuevo León.  The plane, carrying Rivera and six other people – including the 78 year-old pilot – disintegrated upon impact. There were no survivors.

Esquino Núñez...A no-show in the past

Esquino Núñez, who has done time in a United States prison for aircraft fraud, has previously indicated to Mexico’s attorney General’s office, the PGR, that he was told of a plot to smuggle the son of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi  during a drive from Toluca to Mexico City in late September, 2011.