Reuters International

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Congress passed a package of anti-corruption bills on Friday, including stiffer penalties for graft, but the legislation was stripped of a provision that would have required public officials to make public their asset declarations.

President Enrique Pena Nieto has made the push for tougher anti-corruption laws a top priority of his government, which has been accused by its critics of a lax attitude toward fighting corruption.

If signed into law by Pena Nieto, the package of laws would increase fines and jail time for public officials convicted of bribery, embezzlement and illegal enrichment as well as create an independent anti-corruption prosecutor.

Lawmakers from Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its allies in Congress voted down a provision that would have forced elected politicians and other public officials to publicly disclose their assets, taxes and potential conflicts of interests.

The same lawmakers, however, voted to approve a requirement that private citizens, including businesses, that receive government funding or contracts, must make such public disclosures.

(Reporting by Anahi Rama; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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