MEXICO CITY – Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon, accused of managing a chemical precursor company for making drugs, has said in a letter from prison that when the attorney general’s office inspected his home in 2006 it found more money than it reported.
Ye Gon, who has been in preventative prison in Mexico since 2016, said there had been $275 million in his house when it was inspected, while the attorney general’s office had only reported finding $205.5 million, meaning that $69.5 million was unaccounted for.
He said there had been other valuable items in his home too, such as “jewelry, collectible watches, wines, artworks, sound equipment and high quality photography.”
“All my possessions were bought legally with invoices covering the relevant taxes,” he added.
The businessman said he chose to keep such a sum at home, in cash, owing to his lack of confidence in the economy over fears that money could devalue, as was the case in 1994.
“A famous American economist said when you do business in Latin America you should never do it in the money of those countries, always in dollars. That’s why I always kept it in dollars,” the letter said.
Ye Gon said he never had contact with “any type of delinquent organization” and “never imported banned or psychotropic substances without the corresponding authorization.”
He also expressed confidence that he would be freed and managed to overcome an experience that impacted his life.
In his morning briefing, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said if Ye Gon’s account was true, and $70 million has been hidden away, he should present a complaint.
He did not rule out a possible investigation into the civil servants involved in the case and attributed mistakes in both institutions to “nepotism,” “favoritism” and “corruption.”
The president also said that justice needed to be “prompt and expedited,” given that Ye Gon, like many other suspects, had still not received a sentence.
As a result, he said it is “time to undertake a thorough reform of both the Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary.”
Ye Gon arrived from Hong Kong to Mexico City in 1994.
In 2007, Mexican authorities carried out an operation on his mansion during which they seized $205 million in cash found in a secret compartment on the upper floor of the building.
Investigators also found weapons during the search.
Ye Gon declared his innocence and accused the Mexican government of extortion.
One year later, Ye Gon was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration for suspected money laundering.
He was arrested at a Las Vegas casino along with Michelle Wong, an alleged co-conspirator.
In the United States, the accusations were never proven and he was absolved by the American justice system.
Ye Gon, accused of drug trafficking, was extradited to Mexico from the US on 18 October 2016, five years after a judge ordered it.
Since then, he has remained in the El Altiplano maximum security prison, awaiting sentencing.