DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 31 May 2017


May 3, 2000
Deputies want cooperatives excluded from Anti-Laundering Bill
Calendar for selection of new judges for high courts set
Chamber of Deputies eliminates child marriages from Civil Code
Conjunctivitis outbreak is viral
Coercive measures in Odebrecht case to be announced today
Awaiting immunity outcome for deputy and senators
Senator Pared Pérez boasts he is clean in Odebrecht scandal
PRM president Andrés Bautista denies involvement in Odebrecht bribes scandal
Anniversary of assassination of Trujillo
American freed after a year in jail on drugs charges
Investment executive arrested for fraud in Puerto Plata

Deputies want cooperatives excluded from Anti-Laundering Bill
Deputies representing several political parties rejected in the Tuesday, 30 May 2017 session, to vote in favor of the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Bill because this establishes cooperatives will now fall under the regulation of the Superintendence of Banks. This is the same bill that had been passed in the Chamber of Deputies but when sent to the Senate was modified to exclude betting and lottery shops. The bill will replace Law 72-02. 

Deputy Gustavo Sánchez (PLD-National District), spokesman for the PLD bloc in the Chamber of Deputies, expressed his concern that the two-hour discussion focused on whether the betting shops and cooperatives be excluded instead of backing a bill that would combat impunity.  

The new bill places cooperatives under the supervision for money laundering. The deputies are concerned this will affect the development of the cooperatives. Several stressed the role the cooperatives have played in reducing poverty in the country. The motion to remove the cooperatives was presented by Radhamés Camacho (National Deputy). 

Deputy Dario Zapata (PRM-Dajabón) said that the bill as approved by the Senate contradicts Monetary and Financial Law 183-02 that in Art. 76 that establishes that cooperatives will operate under special rules. 

It is not clear what the implications of including cooperatives in the legislation would have on this sector.  However, Fidelio Despradel (Al Pais-National District) argued that the inclusion of the cooperatives is motivated by the big banks that want to put a stop to the competition they are now feeling from the development of the cooperative movement in the country. 

Referring to the other snag in the bill, the betting shops, Deputy José González spoke up in favor of these falling under Superintendence of Banks regulation. He said Congress is under a great deal of international pressure to pass the bill, but it cannot be passed with the chaos surrounding the issue of sports betting shops.  Gonzalez proposed to debate the inclusion of the sports betting issue in a future ruling or legislative action. 

Gonzalez criticized that the government has not been capable of regulating the gaming businesses. He observed that Law 139-11 that moved the licensing and oversight of betting shops and lotteries to the Ministry of Hacienda (Finance) instead facilitated the unintended result of a proliferation of informal betting shops.  According to Gonzalez, there are now more informal betting shops operating than formal or licensed shops.  He found unacceptable the argument that they should not be regulated because there are too many of these to regulate. 

In addition, Darío Zapata also criticized that in the new bill, judges would have to present statements of their net worth. 

The deputies meet again on Wednesday, 31 May 2017, to debate the legislation. 

The Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Bill would enforce in the Dominican Republic measures that are now globally sanctioned under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF-GAFI).


Calendar for selection of new judges for high courts set
The National Council of the Magistracy (CNM) approved on Monday, 29 May 2017 the ruling for the selection of the new judges for the Supreme Court of Justice and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). The CNM opens the receiving of possible candidates from 14 to 28 June 2017. 

The CNM agreed to allow the televising of the first part of the selection process, when the possible candidates are presented, not so the deliberations and actual selection process. The assessment of the candidates will begin on 29 June with the publishing of the list of candidates to be ready by 3 July, the pre-selection will be on 4 July, and the publishing of the pre-selected list from 5 to 6 July. There will be public hearings to discuss the candidates from 10-14 July and the final deliberations will take place 17 to 18 July. The new judges will be sworn in on 21 July 2017. 

Frank Soto served as spokesman for the group, after PRM opposition members Josefa Castillo and Jose Ignacio Paliza opposed that legal advisor of the President, Flavio Darío Espinal serve as spokesman. 

The members of the CNM are President Danilo Medina, president of the Supreme Court of Justice Mariano German, attorney general Jean Alain Rodríguez, president of the Chamber of Deputies Lucia Medina, president of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Perez, senator Jose Paliza, judge of the Supreme Court of Justice Frank Soto and deputy Josefa Castillo.  

The ruling was published in a paid advertisement in Diario Libre on 31 May 2017. 


Chamber of Deputies eliminates child marriages from Civil Code
The Chamber of Deputies eliminated all language from the Civil Code that permitted legal marriage of minors. In the Dominican Republic anyone under 18 years is a minor. 

The deputies agreed with the conclusions of a report developed by the Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, presided over by Henry Meran, that spelled out the injustice and imprudence of allowing such civil unions. 

This change in the code was one of 43 amendments to the Civil Code made by the Chamber of Deputies, after having received the legislation from the Senate.  The bill now returns to the Senate that had earlier approved it. The Senate now needs to review the changes made by the Chamber of Deputies and vote to accept the amendments.

The Civil Code has been under review in Congress for the past 17 years. 


Conjunctivitis outbreak is viral
The director of Public Health Management at the Ministry of Public Health, José Manuel Puello explained on Tuesday, 30 May 2017, that the probable causes of the conjunctivitis outbreak in the Dominican Republic are two viruses ¬ adenovirus and coxsackie.

Puello explained that while many people believe that the actual eye secretions have to be transferred to transmit the virus, the disease can be transmitted by someone who is just standing close to a person with the infection, or a person speaking to someone who has the virus. The disease can even be spread to others via droplets of saliva that are in the breath of the infected person who is talking. 

He urged the population to continue preventive measures such as hand washing, not rubbing eyes with hands and not sharing personal items such as towels and eye glasses. 

Adenovirus belongs to a group of viruses that can affect membranes, respiratory tissues, eyes, intestines and can also cause diarrhea. 

Conjunctivitis normally goes away on its own after five days. Dr. Puello urged those affected to wash their hands and not self medicate. He said to see a doctor if the symptoms worsen.


Coercive measures in Odebrecht case to be announced today
It was originally announced that the coercive measures requested against the 10 people under arrest in the Odebrecht bribe scandal would be heard at 3 pm yesterday, Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, but judge Francisco Ortega Polanco postponed these for Wednesday, 31 May at 5pm. 

Attorney General, Jean Alain Rodríguez, had originally said they would be asking for 18 months in jail on remand but has now clarified to say the  preventive custody terms will be decided by the judge. 

Awaiting immunity outcome for deputy and senators
The president of the Chamber of Deputies Lucia Medina has sent the request from the Attorney General asking for the removal of the privileged immunity for the legislator Alfredo Pacheco (PRM-National District) to the disciplinary committee of the Chamber. Pacheco is one of those accused in the Odebrecht bribery scandal. 

The commission will hear the request within a 15-day period. The commission is headed by Santiago deputy, Demóstenes Martínez.

Meanwhile, the president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Pérez, has said that the Senate will hear the request for removal of immunity today, Wednesday 31 May, against Julio César Valentín (PLD-Santiago) and Tommy Galán (PLD-San Cristóbal), also involved in the same case. 


Senator Pared Pérez boasts he is clean in Odebrecht scandal
“What happened is that I walked through the mud, but no mud stuck on me,” said president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Pérez (PLD-National District) when asked to comment on observations from the Revolutionary Modern Party officials that his name should have been on the list of those arrested in the Odebrecht bribery case.

Pared Pérez also said that he had never refused to be investigated. He added that contrary to what has been speculated that none of those arrested had close ties to President Medina’s faction in the PLD, he said that Temístocles Montás, Tommy Galán and Julio César Valentín were all “Danilo’s men”.

He went on to say that people just wanted to cause divisions within the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) that he said was not going to happen. 


PRM president Andrés Bautista denies involvement in Odebrecht bribes scandal
Andrés Bautista, president of the Revolutionary Modern Party (PRM), has denied any involvement in the Odebrecht case, for which he is currently under arrest. He said that he had acted with transparency, honesty and determination for his whole life, and managed any public funds in the same manner.  

He said that his arrest was in response to the public clamor for justice - but denied having taken any bribes. Bautista said that he would do all in his power to defend his honor and dignity.


Anniversary of assassination of Trujillo
Former President Hipólito Mejía has said that the country should fight to prevent the abuses and arbitrary processes by authorities that are similar to those carried out during the time of Trujillo. He made the observation in a declaration yesterday, 30 May 2017, on the occasion of the commemoration of 30 May 1961, the date marking when Dictator Trujillo was assassinated. 

He said that the remembrance of that day obliges everyone to be more and more responsible in the building of democracy, freedom and the respect for human rights, and to create a society where people can live without fear. He also warned of the dangers of a repeat of the abuses during the time of Trujillo.  


American freed after a year in jail on drugs charges
A man from Houston, Texas, who has been held in jail in the Dominican Republic for more than a year, has been found not guilty of drug smuggling charges and is expected to be released sometime in the next 48 hours.

Larry Davis was accused of helping smuggle drugs into the country aboard the ship "The Precon Express 1." He was held in Najayo prison awaiting trial on narcotics charges facing up to 20 years in prison.

A three-judge panel found him not guilty but the court is now waiting to see if the Dominican Republic government will appeal the verdict although that is not thought to be likely.

Davis said he and his father had leased the ship to another company. He said he received a call from the lessee telling him there was an inspection issue and at that time there was no mention of drugs.

According to Davis, he flew to the Dominican Republic, only to find out about the large shipment of drugs found on board. He was arrested and jailed despite declaring his innocence.


Investment executive arrested for fraud in Puerto Plata
An arrest warrant has been issued in Puerto Plata against José Apolinar Rodríguez Ulloa, executive of the financial company, Inversiones al Día S.R.L., (INVERDISA), who is accused of violating the Monetary and Financial Law, Anti-Money Laundering Law and defrauding his depositors. 

According to the investigations carried out by public prosecutors, the amount involved in the fraud is between RD$340-400 million. The funds in question had been deposited by hundreds of Dominicans and foreigners.  As reported, the bank paid interest to the victims using their own money or that of new investors.

In addition, the company did not have the authorization to carry out this type of operation in the country and was not registered or regulated by the Superintendence of Banking. 

The lead prosecutor in the case, Osvaldo Bonilla, has asked depositors to go to the prosecutors’ office in Puerto Plata to receive information concerning the next steps of the investigation.