Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took a $100 million bribe from Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, a witness testified Tuesday during the New York City trial of the accused drug trafficker.
Guzman's former secretary, Alex Cifuentes, said his boss paid the bribe to the former head of state in October 2012, which was after Peña Nieto was elected but before he took office that December, the New York Post reported.
Previously, witnesses in Guzman's drug conspiracy trial accused him of bribing Mexican officials. This allegation, if true, would indicate his influence permeated the Mexican government all the way to its highest seat.
"You gave a story that Mr. Guzman paid a bribe to Mr. Peña Nieto of $100 million," Jeffrey Lichtman, Guzman's lawyer, said during cross-examination of Cifuentes.
"That's right," Cifuentes said in the Brooklyn courtroom.
The New York Times reported that Cifuentes said an intermediary paid the bribe to Peña Nieto.
In his opening statement at the start of the trial in November, Lichtman said Guzman was the victim of a conspiracy by his partner and the true head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia. Lichtman said Zambada paid millions of dollars in bribes to two presidents, including Peña Nieto.
The prosecution tried to have Lichtman's opening statement thrown out, but Judge Brian Cogan told the jury to take the defendant's words lightly.
"Your opening statement handed out a promissory note that your case is not going to cash," Cogan told the defense.
Following the accusation in November, Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesman for the Mexican government, called the allegations "completely false" in a tweet.
El gobierno de @EPN persiguió, capturó y extraditó al criminal Joaquín Guzmán Loera. Las afirmaciones atribuidas a su abogado son completamente falsas y difamatorias— Eduardo Sánchez H. (@ESanchezHdz) November 13, 2018
Near the end of the trial's first week, the defense told Cogan that the upcoming testimony of witness Jesus Zambada Garcia, Ismael Zambada Garcia's brother, would show that two presidents received bribes.
Cogan dismissed the testimony on grounds it would embarrass people not involved directly in the case.
Guzman, who is facing a minimum sentence of life in prison and the possible forfeiture of $14 million, faces 17 charges including drug trafficking, murder conspiracy and money laundering from his alleged 25-year career as head of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Guzman pleaded not guilty to all charges in January 2017.