Pubdate: Sun, 28 Dec 2003
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Miami Herald
Author: E. Eduardo Castillo, Associated Press


MEXICO CITY - Mexico dropped a money-laundering probe against a Roman
Catholic cardinal, one of a handful of clerics overseeing Vatican
finances, officials said Friday.

The government pursued the investigation after a former attorney
general alleged that Cardinal Juan Sandoval of Guadalajara or his
subordinates may have accepted donations from drug

Deputy Attorney General Jose Vasconcelos said Friday that
investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing.

''It has been concluded that there's nothing to support the
accusations of money-laundering, use of illicit funds and tax fraud,''
Vasconcelos said at a press conference.

He said similar allegations against attorney Jose Antonio Ortega and
Jose Maria Guardia, a horse- and dog-track owner friendly with
Sandoval, were also unfounded.

Former Mexican Attorney General Jorge Carpizo alleged that three
churches and a center for migrants in Ciudad Juarez were financed with
illicit funds while Sandoval worked there.

Sandoval denied the allegations and called the inquiry an attempt to
silence his criticism of the investigation of the 1993 shooting death
of his predecessor, Cardinal Juan Jess Posadas Ocampo.

Sandoval has long maintained that Posadas was killed to conceal ties
between drug traffickers and government and that investigators covered
up the matter. Carpizo's investigation had concluded that Posadas was
killed by accident during a showdown between drug traffickers.

The charges against Sandoval threatened to reopen a long-running rift
between the church and the government.
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