2021News

Odebrecht bribes case: Angel Rondon and Victor Diaz sentenced

The judges of the First Collegiate Court of the National District, Esmirna Giselle Mendez, Tania Yunes and Jisell Naranjo only found commercial representative of the Brazilian construction firm Angel Rondon and former minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua guilty in the US$92 million bribes case. The case began in 2017 after Odebrecht officers admitted to paying the bribes to expedite contracting works in the Dominican Republic in a New York City court in December 2016.

The case was investigated by then Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez. Early on, the president of the Criminal Court of the Supreme Court of Justice, Miriam German Brito warned that flaws in the preparation of the case would undermine the prosecution efforts. After making the statement publicly, German Brito would not be renewed as a judge in the Supreme Court. Rodríguez would present charges of corruption against her for which he later would apologize. With the change of government, German Brito would be named Attorney General, yet she announced she would not personally carry the case.

On 14 October 2021, Angel Rondon was sentenced to eight years of detention, 200 minimum wages for bribing and money laundering. Yet the court did not vary the custody measures which means that Rondón is only subject to not traveling abroad and to being available for presentation in court. The court ordered the seizing of Rondon-owned companies Lashan Corporation and Constructores y Contratistas Conamsa SRL and their assets. The court sentence establishes that the consulting work of Rondón served as a mechanism to justify the funds the Odebrecht Bribes Office transferred to the Lashan Corp accounts in the Mei Bank of Antigua and Barbuda and the BSI Bahamas for the payment of bribes to US dollar accounts of Bancamerica in the name of Lashan Corporation.

Former minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua was sentenced to five years detention and 200 minimum wages for illicit wealth acquiring and irregular wealth statement presentation and for laundering assets. The court ordered the seizing of several assets of the accused, including a villa in Casa de Campo, an apartment in Torre Caney in Santo Domingo, the La Balbie luxury yacht, the companies Radiodifusora Sky Land, Albox S.A., and Sociedad Inversiones Monttoa and several savings accounts in dollars in the Banco de Reservas. As in the case of Rondón, Díaz Rúa will keep the same preventive measures and is only impeded to travel abroad and must be available for presentations in court.

While the judges sentenced Rondón and Díaz Rúa for bribing government officials, the judges acquitted government officials that had previously been accused of receiving the bribes.

Angel Rondon, commenting on the sentence questioned that there could be bribes and no one accused of receiving the bribes.

Yet the four accused by state prosecutors were acquitted. These were former senators Tommy Galán and Andrés Bautista; Roberto Rodriguez, former director of the National Institute of Potable Waters (Inapa), and lawyer Conrado Pittaluga. The court cleared all claims of the state on property or assets of those that were acquitted.

State prosecutor Wilson Camacho of the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office (Pepca) says he will appeal the case once the full sentence is available on 25 November 2021. If the case is appealed, it could continue for another year in the courts.

Commenting on Noticias SIN special programming on the verdict, lawyer Francisco (Pancho) Alvarez says the judges decision reflects the lenience with which Dominican courts treat white collar crime. Alvarez also alerted to the prescribing of corruption cases. Amendments to the Penal Code under study in Congress already establish shorter prescription terms for government corruption.

The state prosecutors have yet to present cases for crimes of overvaluation of Odebrecht construction works, and for irregularities in the contracting and construction of the coal-fired Punta Catalina power generation plant. These possible cases have been pre-named Odebrecht 2.0 and Odebrecht 3.0.

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El Caribe
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Noticias SIN
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Altagracia Salazar sin Maquillaje

15 October 2021