Saturday, December 15, 2018

Puerto Rico comptroller: USACE contract with Fluor looked like a spy movie

By on September 24, 2018

CAROLINA, Puerto Rico – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares reacted Sunday to the result of the Comptroller’s Office investigation into the contract between Whitefish Energy and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa). Completed in June, the probe concluded there were no irregularities in how it was awarded.

“We requested it be investigated and the investigation of the comptroller found there were no irregularities. That’s what we asked for, that the people can have clarity, and now we can move forward. The important thing for me is we understand that we have to move forward,” the governor said during a press conference.

On June 7, Comptroller Yesmín Valdivieso announced that the investigation conducted by her office did not find irregularities with the contract awarded to the small Montana-based contractor, which was canceled by the Rosselló administration. The governor had said the Whitefish contract had become “a distraction” amid the recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Along with the contract’s cancellation, then-Prepa Executive Director Ricardo Ramos resigned.

In a press conference Friday, the comptroller said that unlike the investigation of the Whitefish contract, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) did not give her office full access to its $1.2 billion contract with Fluor Corp., the Texas-based multinational engineering and construction firm, which came into effect following the departure of Whitefish.

“Even though they did not have employees, someone came and fixed the [electric power] system. And most of the work, regardless of whether it has to be redone or not, they did it. If ghosts did it, well I don’t know. With the federal authorities, there is always have a thorn in my side because we are always accused of being able to be more transparent. Still today, no one has seen the Corps of Engineers’ $1.2 billion contract with Fluor. They sent it to me two months after I asked for it and it looked like a spy movie because everything was black, blacked out,” Valdivieso said.

The comptroller mentioned that the redactions were made mostly to conceal hourly pay to employees, which the official said was important information to evaluate how the salaries of workers from abroad compared versus those paid to Prepa employees.

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