Mexico 2022


Mexico ranks 124th out of 180 on Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating that a high level of corruption is perceived to take place in the country.1 This rank is the lowest of the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.2 Mexico also continues to rank in the middle of the Basel Institute’s Anti-Money Laundering Index, indicating a substantial risk of money laundering.3 Moreover, the country’s criminality score of 7.57  remains very high, according to the Global Organized Crime Index of 2021 (the global average being 4.88).4

While initially being lauded for its introduction, the Mexican National Anti-Corruption System (SNA) has faced challenges in preventing and addressing corruption. The SNA was designed to be governed by citizens, who coordinate decentralised agencies related to fighting corruption.A May 2022 progress report has however shown that it is largely failing to meet its goals.5

Previously, criticism has been levelled against it that its structure is too burdensome and inefficient, and that it has in part been captured by local leaders.6

While the current President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), won the 2018 national election on the promise of ending the corruption inherited by previous governments, he has tried to operate outside the framework of the SNA,7 with the relationship between the presidency and the SNA becoming increasingly distant. Academics and experts have suggested that despite a good anti-corruption system, Mexico’s government fails to use it efficiently.8 The latest Financial Action Task Force report (2018) highlighted that Mexican officials fail to proactively and systematically investigate and prosecute cases of money laundering, due to corruption within the country’s law enforcement agencies.9

Asset recovery in Mexico

Several asset recovery cases are open and ongoing against former governors of Mexico’s 31 states. The most prominent of these are:

  • César Duarte, the former governor of Chihuahua, who has been accused of embezzlement and fled Mexico in March 2018 to the United States. Twenty properties belonging to César Duarte have been seized since he fled. He was known for his luxury lifestyle and is accused of using an official helicopter to fly friends and family to his ranch at weekends. He was arrested in July 2020 in Miami and extradited to Mexico two years later, in June 2022.14
  • Tomás Yarrington, the former governor of Tamaulipas, who also fled the country and was arrested in Italy in 2017. Some of the assets forfeited include: a USD 640,000 condominium, alleged to be the proceeds of corrupt payments received from the Gulf Cartel in exchange for non-interference in their criminal enterprise by public officials and law enforcement; a Pilatus aircraft; a 46,175-acre tract of land in Bexar County, Texas; and a residence in Port Isabel.15 Imprisoned in Texas since 2018, he pled guilty for money laundering in May 2021 and admitted he accepted over USD 3.5 million in bribes.16
  • Javier Duarte, former governor of Veracruz, who was arrested in Guatemala after a six-month manhunt crossing three continents. He is alleged to have misappropriated over 55 billion pesos (USD 2.97 billion).17 He was prosecuted and in 2020 his sentence of nine years in prison was confirmed. An earlier order of confiscation of 41 properties was revoked though, pending further prosecutions.18

The Odebrecht investigations affecting the Americas have also impacted Mexico. Unlike in other countries in the region, three separate federal investigations into the case have stagnated. The lack of progress in the Odebrecht case has been a sore point in Mexico since late 2016, when the company admitted to U.S., Swiss and Brazilian authorities in a multibillion-dollar settlement that it had paid USD 10.5 million in bribes to Mexican officials. To date, the only movement on this case in Mexico appears to be the arrest of Emilio Lozoya, the former director of Pemex.19 His trial is still ongoing, and he faces a forty-years imprisonment sentence.20

A past example of a successful recovery is the return of USD 74 million by the Swiss government to Mexico in 2008 after 12-year investigation into Raúl Salinas de Gortari, brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas.21

International Institutional Engagement

Mexico is a member of Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT) which is a regional body implementing the FATF Forty Recommendations. Mexico is also part of the GAFILAT Asset Recovery Network, which is a regional informal network that seeks to exchange information, as well as best practice, on asset forfeiture, confiscation, and money laundering in Latin America.22

Mexico has 12 Information Exchange Agreements, through which the Tax Administration Service – Servicio de Atribución Tributaria (SAT) – shares and receives information with institutions abroad. In addition, in May 2010 Mexico acceded to the Convention on Assistance Mutual Management in Fiscal Matters of the OECD and the Council of Europe, which allows access to a broad international cooperation network for the exchange of information in fiscal matters.23

Further reading

Sanctions As a Tool For Asset Recovery: Mexico
Our national study assessing the impact of international sanctions on asset recovery in Moldova
The Stolen Wealth
Our report with the Frierich Ebert Foundation on opportunities and challenges for civil society in asset recovery

Previous country profiles

Mexico 2020
Read our 2020 country profile for Mexico

Mexico 2018
Read our 2018 country profile for Mexico


  1. Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index, 2021, https://www.transparency.de/cpi/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  2. Transparencia Mexicana, “México, sin avance en Indice de Percepción de la Corrupción: Transparencia Mexicana”, 2022, https://www.tm.org.mx/ipc2021/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  3. Basel Institute, Basel AML Index 2021, https://index.baselgovernance.org/ranking [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  4. Sànchez N., ‘Mexico’s organized corruption scourge’, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, 09 November 2022, https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/mexico-organized-corruption/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  5. INEGI, “Encuesta Nacional de Calidad e Impacto Gubernamental 2021. Principales resultados”, 2022, https://www.inegi.org.mx/programas/encig/2021/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  6. Cárdenas, J.“Mis críticas al Sistema Nacional Anticorrupción”, en La Ley General de Responsabilidades Administrativas: un análisis crítico, 2022, Mexico: UNAM, IIJ, p.27
  7. Grageda, A.,“Konfrontation oder Kollaboration? Das Nationale Antikorruptionssystem SNA und die neue mexikanische Regierung”, iLa. Das Latein Amerika Magazine 423, 2018, https://www.ila-web.de/ausgaben/423 [accessed on the 28/06/18]
  8. Mexico News Daily, ‘Anti-corruption system a good one but it’s not being utilized, says expert’, 17 June 2022, retrieved from: https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/anti-corruption-system-not-utilized/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  9. FATF, “Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures Mexico. Mutual Evaluation Report”, 2018, can be downloaded here : https://www.fatf-gafi.org/countries/j-m/mexico/documents/mer-mexico-2018.html [accessed on the 08/12/22]
  10. Le Clercq, JA & Rodríguez, G. (coord.) “Índice Global de Impunidad-México 2018”. 2018, Puebla: Universidad de las Américas, p. 34.
  11. Senado de la República “Aprueban ‘muerte civil’ para servidores públicos, por actos de corrupción” 2019, http://comunicacion.senado.gob.mx/index.php/informacion/boletines/44210-aprueban-muerte-civil-para-servidores-publicos-por-actos-de-corrupcion.html?fbclid=IwAR0J3zUK1nui3Jv2iksB1fznUGPmNp1vOpEoLo7EApYM6Kyx2J3Dk6IFv-E [accessed on the 23/05/20] ; Saul Vela D., ‘SCJN declara inconstitucional la ‘muerte civil’por corrupcion’, El Financero, 12 November 2022, retrieved from: https://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/nacional/scjn-declara-inconstitucional-la-muerte-civil-por-corrupcion/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  12. Cámara de Diputados “Decreto por el que se expide la Ley Nacional de Extinción de Dominio”, 2019, http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/ref/lned/LNED_orig_09ago19.pdf [accessed on the 24/06/20], A. Salinas A., Martin J., ‘Mexico Issues New Asset Forfeiture Law and Creates Special Forfeiture Unit’, National Law Review, January 2 2020, https://www.natlawreview.com/article/mexico-issues-new-asset-forfeiture-law-and-creates-special-forfeiture-unit [accessed on the 21/10/20].
  13. FATF, « Mexico’s progress in strengthening measures to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing”, 2021, https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/mutualevaluations/documents/fur-mexico-2021.html [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  14. BBC, “Fugitive Chihuahua governor Duarte’s bison seized”, 26 February 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-43195550 [accessed on the 30/09/20]; Borunda D., ‘Ex-Chihuahua Gov. César Duarte extradited to Mexico to face public corruption case’, El Paso Times, 02 June 2022, retrieved from: https://eu.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2022/06/02/cesar-duarte-chihuahua-governor-extradited-mexico-corruption-case/7488698001/ [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  15. StAR, Asset Recovery Watch Database, can be downloaded here: https://star.worldbank.org/asset-recovery-watch-database [accessed on the 08/12/22].
  16. The United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas, “Former Mexican governor and presidential candidate convicted for money laundering”, 25 March 2021, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/former-mexican-governor-and-presidential-candidate-convicted-money-laundering [accessed on the 15/11/22]
  17. The Guardian, ‘Mexico: wife of captured ex-governor living high life in London, rival alleges’, 30 May 2018,
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/30/mexico-karime-macias-london-governor-veracruz [accessed on the 30/09/18]
    Infobae, “Ratificaron sentencia de 9 años de prisión a Javier Duarte, pero revocaron decomiso de 40 propiedades” 18 May 2020, https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2020/05/18/ratificaron-sentencia-de-9-anos-de-prision-a-javier-duarte-pero-revocaron-decomiso-de-40-propiedades/ [accessed on the 14/10/20]
  18. The New York Times, ‘Mexico Could Press Bribery Charges. It Just Hasn’t.’, 11 June 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/world/americas/mexico-odebrecht-investigation.html [accessed on the 30/09/18]
  19. Transparencia Mexicana, “México no sanciona corrupción transnacional: Transparencia Internacional y Transparencia Mexicana”, 12 October 2020, https://www.tm.org.mx/exportandocorrupcion2020/ [accessed on the 14/10/20]
  20. Ferrer Fonte I., “New hearing against former PEMEX director for Odebrecht case”, Prensa Latina, 07 November 2022, https://www.plenglish.com/news/2022/11/07/new-hearing-against-former-pemex-director-for-odebrecht-case/ [accessed on the 18/11/22]
  21. Ortega, A. “Switzerland returns to the Mexican State 74 million dollars from Raúl Salinas’s accounts”, El Pais, 2008 https://elpais.com/internacional/2008/06/19/actualidad/1213826405_850215.html [accessed on on the 29/06/20]
  22. http://www.gafilat.org/
  23. https://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNCAC/WorkingGroups/workinggroup2/2014-September-11-12/Responses_NV/Mexico_SP.pdf