First complaints filed against public employees who received PUA benefits improperly

By John McPhaul

The Complaints and Investigations Division of Puerto Rico’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG by its Spanish initials) announced Thursday that after completing an investigative process in collaboration with the Department of Labor and Human Resources, it has filed a first round of complaints against public employees who improperly applied for and received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.

The complaints come out of a formal adjudication procedure for determining penalties and consequences, if any, the OIG said in a written statement.

In the procedure, the benefits paid to the public servants concerned will be properly ended. Complaints are based on the identification of illegal conduct that results in receiving PUA benefits without being entitled to them.

Labor Secretary Carlos J. Rivera Santiago said that “since irregularities in PUA compensation claims have been identified, we have investigated a number of cases of possible fraud.”

“We have been working closely in collaboration with the OIG providing technical assistance so that it can exercise its auditing functions,” he said.

The evaluation and investigation was carried out by the OIG’s Complaints and Investigations Division under the powers conferred in Articles 2,7,8 and 17 of Law No. 15 of 2017, the Inspector General of Puerto Rico Law.

The complaints filed are part of a first stage. Meanwhile, the OIG and the Department of Labor and Human Resources continue to work together on the investigative process.