Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Puerto Rico fiscal board goes to court to obtain Senate financial data

By on February 14, 2019

SAN JUAN – The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico has requested that the federal court in San Juan compel the island’s Senate to provide its bank account balances, by suing Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz.

The board said that after its sent “more than eight official requests, made multiple calls, and had informal conversations” to obtain “this crucial financial data from the Senate and the Senate’s documented refusal,” it decided to file the complaint in an adversary proceeding in the commonwealth’s Title III case under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa).

The Senate’s bank account balance, the board argued, is a “necessary element of a forensic investigation into the liquidity of the Government of Puerto Rico and its instrumentalities and entities, led by an independent forensic analysis team of Duff & Phelps LLC.”

The board explained that its objective is to “assess a comprehensive inventory of all Government bank accounts and any documented legal restrictions on cash positions,” to be able to produce a public report of the government’s cash position.

The board hired San Juan-based law firm Gierbolini & Carroll to assist in litigation to get information from the Puerto Rico government, Bloomberg reports.

“Complete transparency, and accountability for public funds are a prerequisite for good governance,” Chairman José Carrión said. “As taxpayers, the people of Puerto Rico have a right to know exactly what funds exist, where they are maintained, and the nature of those funds. Improved accountability and complete transparency are the cornerstones of Puerto Rico’s fiscal turnaround.”

Except for the Senate, the 163 public entities that were sent requests for financial information provided data, including the House of Representatives and the judicial branch, the board said.

“Participation and voluntary cooperation from the Government of Puerto Rico was not only expected, but crucial for this forensic analysis to be successful. We trust the court will agree that it is in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico for the Senate to join the other 163 public entities in this exercise of transparency and financial accountability,” the board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko, added.

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