Saturday, September 21, 2019

Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association urges gov’t to address corruption allegations

By on June 26, 2019

Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association President Carlos Rodríguez delivers his acceptance speech during the organization’s annual summit. (Courtesy)

Says Washington lobbying efforts are being hindered

SAN JUAN — The newly elected president of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (PRMA), Carlos Rodríguez, is imploring the island’s government to quickly address allegations of corruption in certain agencies because it is negatively affecting the trade group’s lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. to obtain incentives for the island.

The FBI and other local and federal government agencies are investigating the allegations and Rodríguez urged they continue their course but said that “the issue must be addressed immediately because prolonging it without due attention corrodes our international perception as a country of law and order.”

Puerto Rico’s private sector lobbies Capitol Hill lawmakers with the objective of fostering the competitiveness of the island through federal incentives and aid.

“At the same time, we work to promote international investment on the island. News like this affects our credibility as a country and makes our work much harder,” Rodríguez said.

On Tuesday morning, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló gave a press conference to deny an accusation by former Treasury Secretary Raúl Maldonado Gautier’s son, who alleged the governor requested the alteration of audit reports into “Unidos por Puerto Rico,” an organization that helped victims of Hurricane Maria, so they would not affect first lady Beatriz Rosselló, who was the face of the effort.

The allegations came after Rosselló asked Maldonado, who was also Puerto Rico’s chief financial officer and Office of Management and Budget director, after the secretary alleged there was an “institutional mafia” that was being investigated by the FBI.

Rosselló said Maldonado never informed him about the matter and that he lost confidence in his cabinet official. The Department of Justice cited for Friday the former Treasury secretary and his son to provide information regarding their allegations.

Meanwhile, the director of the island’s Health Insurance Administration (ASES by its Spanish acronym), Ángela Ávila Marrero, resigned after it was learned that Chief of Staff Ricardo Llerandi was questioned by a federal grand jury regarding accounting firm BDO consultant Alberto Velázquez Piñol.

The resignation of Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez was also rumored after an emergency meeting was reportedly convened at the Health Department Tuesday amid the allegations of impropriety related to BDO, which is being federally investigated.

Llerandi said the administration was not concerned about potential irregularities, saying Rodríguez assured Velázquez had no contracts with the Health Department.

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