Sunday, September 22, 2019

FBI head in Puerto Rico: It will be a very busy summer

By on June 27, 2019

Douglas A. Leff, special agent in charge of the San Juan Division (CB file)

Investigating several companies, municipalities and the government

SAN JUAN — The FBI’s special agent in charge of the San Juan Division, Douglas Leff, said Thursday that his agency’s probe into Puerto Rico government contracts should find a pattern of undue influence and money laundering.

While most government officials will be going on vacation in July, Leff told Radio Isla he expects a “very busy summer” for the FBI.

“We have received extensive information about contracts that do not serve the people and probably serve the interests of other people,” Leff said in the interview. “We are sure that we will find a quid pro quo.”

Leff said the FBI was investigating several companies and island municipalities as well as the government.

“We are going to have a press conference soon because we have received a lot of useful information from the public. For example, bids that could have complied with everything but that would have cost less to the people but, instead, the government awarded a bid to the more expensive contract,” he said.

The special agent anticipated that arrests would be carried out.

“It’s fair to say that this summer will be very busy for us,” Leff reiterated, adding that the federal prosecutor’s office will be determining whether there will be more arrests.

Regarding the case of former Treasury Secretary Raúl Maldonado Gautier, who was ousted by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Monday, Leff said “the FBI and the federal government for many years work to protect our witnesses.”

Maldonado was fired after saying in a radio interview that there was an “institutionalized mafia” in the Treasury Department and that he had been the victim of extortion. He said the FBI was investigating a group of 15 to 20 people for different types of crimes.

Maldonado was also removed as director of the Office of Management and Budget and as chief financial officer. The Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration’s (ASES by its Spanish acronym) head, Ángela Ávila, recently resigned amid irregularities with a contract with the accounting firm BDO.

Leff did not comment on remarks by Maldonado’s son, Raúl Maldonado Nieves, who said he only trusts the U.S. Justice Department. He also did not say whether the FBI would interview Rosselló.

Maldonado’s son accused Rosselló of corruption and said he tried to have changes made to an audit of “Unidos por Puerto Rico,” an organization that helped Hurricane Maria victims and of which the first lady was the spokesperson, to avoid implicating her amid alleged mishandling of food and other products distributed after the hurricane.

However, Leff did not say whether the federal government was investigating that particular issue.

https://caribbeanbusiness.com/two-contractors-1-puerto-rico-senate-employee-arrested-for-ghost-employee-scheme/

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