Justice Dept. recommends independent prosecutor to probe ex-Treasury chief’s handling of contract

By The Star Staff

The island Department of Justice on Tuesday recommended the appointment of a special independent prosecutor (FEI by its Spanish initials) to investigate possible violations of the criminal code by former government official Raúl Maldonado Gautier related to the alleged awarding of a contract when he served as Treasury secretary that caused the illegal disbursement of public funds.

“The Department of Justice (DJ) received a referral from the Office of the Inspector General on February 6, 2020. Following an investigation by the DJ’s Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs, it concluded that a contract awarded by the then Secretary of Treasury was formalized without the necessary requirements, causing the illegal disbursement of public funds,” Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said in a written statement. “For this reason, a communication was referred to the members of the Panel on the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel [PFEI by its Spanish initials].”

According to the communication, the Department of Justice recommends the appointment of an FEI to evaluate the actions of Maldonado Gautier for “possible misappropriation of funds and undue intervention in government operations, as a result of the awarding of contract 2007-000246 between the Department of the Treasury and Risco Insurance Inc. as of April 1, 2017.”

The preliminary investigation conducted by personnel of the Justice Department’s Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs revealed that there is sufficient cause to conclude that Maldonado Gautier could have committed crimes under the following: Article 4.2 of the Government Ethics Law; Article 254 of the Penal Code for undue intervention in government operations; and Article 264 of the Penal Code for embezzlement of public funds, which justifies the appointment of an FEI.

Emanuelli Hernández added that both Maldonado Gautier and the complainant were notified of the recommendation.

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