Bernardo Vega: corruption was US$257M not US$92M
Former governor of the Central Bank and Dominican ambassador in Washington, D.C., economist and historian Bernardo Vega writes about the Odebrecht corruption scandal in Acento and compares the Dominican government handling of the case with how other Latin American governments have acted.
He observes that, in general, the Medina administration has taken the matter lightly given the amounts involved and how other Latin American government have reacted.
“First it has to be pointed out that the robbery was not for US$92 million, but for US$257 million. The first figure is the money government officers and middlemen handled, but the overvaluations add another US$165 million. In both cases, billings for the jobs were inflated and the difference was paid by the Dominican state.
Next he points out that as other affected countries have done – Ecuador, Peru and Panama. In these countries, the Brazilian company has been placed on the list of companies that cannot participate in government procurement until they have repaid the state.
He also recommends that the two contracts Odebrecht is executing in the country be revised without delay – Punta Catalina coal-fired power plant and the Miches-Sabana de la Mar road. “In these two cases there is time to review if the public works were overvalued, and/or if there were payments for commissions and, if so, the government should refuse to pay these,” he writes.
He says the commission called to work by President Medina may show his good intentions, but the commission is going to need a technical team, including foreign firms to carry out a forensic audit.
He called for the government to do as Argentina has done, and ask the US Department of Justice to send the details on the payments. The same request should be placed to the government of Brazil. He observed that newly elected US representative, Adriano Espaillat, could request that US government offer the same support in the Dominican case.
He observed that the Attorney General’s office in Peru has already reached an out-of- court agreement with Odebrecht in which the company commits to turn over all pertinent information in the investigation and advance a payment for around US$9 million in advances against earnings that were irregularly obtained. He comments Dominican Attorney General’s Office is far from reaching a similar agreement.
Vega wonders: “Will the PLD allow Dominicans to find out who the corrupt officials were and assure that the stolen money is returned? The PLD acts as a business corporation (PLD, C. por A.) and it is common for illicit funds be distributed within the PLD apparatus, instead of going to middlemen. It is not a coincidence that in more than one occasion the treasurer of the PLD party has also been named Minister of Public Works and neither is it a coincidence that our government only investigates the cases that explode abroad, as there is no political will to call-out the others.”
He speculates that in the ruling party, given that the struggle for who will be the presidential candidate in 2020 has already begun, the government could focus on the works financed during the government of Leonel Fernández without reaching the in-depth levels that the investigations have reached in Peru, Panama and Ecuador. “I hope I’m wrong”, he concludes.
Source: DR1, Acento
Jan 20, 2017
Category: DR News |