Conflict of interest in Odebrecht commission

The chairman of the new commission created by Presidential Decree 6-17 to investigate the bidding and decision process for the Punta Catalina coal-fired power plant contracted by the Medina administration to Odebrecht is being called into question by civil society, as reported in Diario Libre.
The commission was created in parallel to the Attorney General Office’s investigation following a New York court ruling that established that the Brazilian construction giant had paid US$92 million in bribes to secure US$163 million worth of contracts.

Diario Libre reports that the new commission’s chairman, Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado, is also on the board of directors of Acero Estrella, which is one of Odebrecht’s main Dominican partners. The article points out that the Odebrecht-Estrella consortium completed the 26km Santiago beltway. Both companies also are building the Punta Catalina plants together with Tecnimont, SPA, and the Duarte Corridor with six overpasses, three underpasses, a tunnel and a pedestrian bridge at main intersections in the Dominican capital.

The Presidential decree states that the commission has full powers to investigate anyone they choose as well as everything connected with the tender that awarded the contract to Odebrecht-Estrella. The decree also calls for a report to be issued as fast as possible.

The Odebrecht New York court ruling investigated corruption payments made between 2001 and 2014, spanning the governments of Hipólito Mejía, Leonel Fernández and Danilo Medina. The first project was the Northwest Aqueduct executed by the National Institute of Potable Water (Inapa) under Roberto Rodríguez during the Mejía administration. Next to follow were the seven contracts signed by former Minister Víctor Díaz Rúa under the Fernández governments.

The current Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo has signed five contracts for works with Odebrecht, including the Santiago overpass and the Catalina coal-fired power plant in Peravia (Baní) province.

As reported in El Dia, the Attorney General has given Odebrecht a Friday, 13 January 2017 deadline for delivering the requested information on dates, sums and forms of payment for all the works carried out in the DR.

Meanwhile, Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo said the commission was appointed to give credibility to the Punta Catalina power plant project, as reported in El Dia. Meanwhile, Monsignor Nuñez Collado said the decree that defines the work of the commission in no way replaces the work on this matter being carried out by the Attorney General Office.

Read more in Spanish:
El Dia
Diario Libre
Diario Libre

12 January 2017