Mexico opposition seeks probe into Fox's wealth

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MEXICO CITY, Sep 21 (Reuters) Mexican opposition lawmakers want to investigate former President Vicente Fox for corruption after a glossy magazine published photographs showing how he transformed his ranch into a spacious estate.

Legislators said they hoped to convene an investigative panel in the next few days after Quien magazine published photos of Fox's property in central Mexico. It boasts a mansion, a large swimming pool, a lake and immaculately kept grounds with deer and peacocks.

The Mexican press has published photos of the San Cristobal ranch in Guanajuato state taken in 1999, one year before Fox became president. They show a smaller, barer house without a swimming pool and with only simple furniture.

''This is an issue of public morality. ... What the ex-president is showing (in the magazine) does not correspond with what he had declared (with the state auditor),'' said Samuel Aguilar, a lawmaker with the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

The leftist opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution also favors a probe.

Fox, a conservative, has denied any wrongdoing in a statement and added that the ''Centro Fox'' think tank he is building near his Guanajuato estate is financed with private donations.

Fox, who ended 71 years of the PRI's one-party rule in 2000, is a popular, charismatic figure in Mexico and has not been involved in any financial scandals.

But his wife, Marta Sahagun, has faced accusations that she siphoned off money from a social fund that she headed as Mexico's first lady and channeled government contracts to her sons. She denies any wrongdoing and the accusations were never proven in court.

Fox was succeeded as president last December by his energy minister, Felipe Calderon.

REUTERS AK PM0022

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