Mexico says FBI investigating governor's links to money laundering

·2-min read

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The governor of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas is under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged money laundering, Mexico's president said on Thursday, less than three weeks before pivotal midterm elections.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador showed a letter from an FBI representative that said Governor Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca of the opposition center-right National Action Party (PAN) was among several people believed to be involved in money laundering in the United States, Mexico and other countries.

"It's a question that the (attorney general's office) is dealing with, which is autonomous. I'm not giving instructions, revenge is not my strong suit," the leftist Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference, adding that he hoped the United States would send Mexico official documents if Garcia were arrested in U.S. territory.

In Tamaulipas, just south of Texas, the state government did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. The U.S Department of Justice and the FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Garcia has said the accusations against him are baseless and politically motivated ahead of a June 6 legislative election in which Lopez Obrador's ruling Morena party seeks to maintain or expand its control of the lower house of Congress, which is up for grabs.

Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) on Wednesday ordered Garcia's bank accounts frozen over accusations of organized crime and activities with "resources of illicit origin."

A Mexican federal government source with knowledge of the case told Reuters the attorney general also ordered the governor's arrest. On Twitter, two lawmakers said there was an arrest warrant out for him.

Late last month, the lower house voted to withdraw Garcia's protection from possible arrest after the attorney general's office said there were indications he may have ties to organized crime.

The Tamaulipas state legislature, however, later voted to maintain his protection, meaning he cannot be arrested within its borders. Garcia's whereabouts are not publicly known.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Raul Cortes and Sharay Angulo in Mexico City; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Howard Goller)