Americans’ Life Savings Disappear From Mexican Bank Accounts

Financial fraud is exploding in Mexico, and American expats with accounts at Monex appear to be among the latest victims.

By David Welch and cross-posted from Bloomberg

In late December, Kathy Machir called Marcela Zavala Taylor, her banker of nine years at Mexico’s Monex Casa de Bolsa, to get cash for contractors building her retirement home in San Miguel de Allende. Typically, Zavala would wire money or dispatch her assistant, Juan, on his motorcycle with an envelope full of pesos. Monex, with $5.2 billion in assets and operations in the U.S., was woven into the lives of Machir and the 10,000 other Americans who’ve moved to San Miguel de Allende.

The transfer didn’t happen. Juan didn’t show, Zavala didn’t return calls, and Kathy and Jim Machir discovered that their nest egg was gone. When the Machirs and other San Miguel expatriates met with Monex officials in early January, the bankers told some of them that about $40 million was missing from as many as 158 accounts, many belonging to English-speaking Americans. A dozen people interviewed by Bloomberg News say that bank statements Zavala sent them purporting to show full accounts were apparently falsified. Most say the bank has told them little since they filed complaints, and some say Monex tried to settle for far less than the balances owed. “When they told us we had 6 pesos [32¢] in our accounts, I just felt sick to my stomach,” Kathy Machir says. “Since then, they have not dealt with us in good faith”

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