Televisa drawn into bribery scandal

Council accusing net VP of defamation conspiracy

MEXICO CITY A snowballing political scandal that has been captivating the nation over the past month has now caught up with Televisa, the nation’s top broadcaster.

City councilman Rene Bejarano, a central figure in a bribery scandal, has accused Televisa’s executive vice president, Bernardo Gomez, of aiding a conspiracy designed to defame him.

In a press conference this past week, the councilman said Televisa, among other things, manipulated a widely publicized hidden-camera videotape that showed Bejarano stuffing into his suit pocket $45,000 in cash received from a businessman.

In addition, Bejarano said the net sold part of a large debt owed it by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) for political advertisements to the same businessman, construction magnate Carlos Ahumada, in exchange for its complicity in the alleged conspiracy.

Over the last year, Ahumada secretly taped Bejarano, himself a PRD member, and other PRD officials, in meetings with him to discuss city contracts and bribes. Some of those tapes were later released to the press, including the one that showed Bejarano pocketing a large wad of cash.

The ensuing controversy has led to a political firefight that has caught up leaders of the PRD as well as the National Action Party, the party of President Vicente Fox.

In his press conference, Bejarano said he put the money in his pocked because it didn’t fit into his briefcase, but that it was intended for PRD campaign coffers. In mentioning Televisa, he based his accusations of tampering on the fact that the time stamp on the tape did not change during the long conversation between himself and Ahumada.

The net responded with a press release in which it “roundly denied the accusations against its directors,” made by Bejarano, while other accused parties, including former PRD president Rosario Robles, have responded by filing defamation suits against the pol.

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