• The San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker to summon Justice chief to explain why corrupt contractors registry isn’t public info

Senate Government Committee Chairman Ramón Ruiz Nieves

By The Star Staff

Senate Government Committee Chairman Ramón Ruiz Nieves said Wednesday that he will ask Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández for an explanation of why a registry of government contractors with charges of corruption is not public, as part of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2018.

“In light of Senate Bill 345 and 299, it brings to light an issue that the country was unaware of,” Ruiz Nieves told reporters. “And there is a registry of 8,000 people since the enactment of Act 2 of 2018 was approved, which is the Anti-Corruption Code. That registry is administered by the Department of Justice and the country does not know about it. And they tell us that unlike the contracts that are registered, the comptroller of Puerto Rico cannot access them; instead, the registry that the Department of Justice has of people convicted of contracts or accusations of embezzlement, if I do not know them I cannot access the person’s name.”

“It is not a registry open to the press or the country,” he added. “If we want the Anti-Corruption Code to work, then we have to discuss with the secretary of Justice why it is not a public document and why I cannot know about it.”

Ruiz Nieves noted that the panel he chairs will summon the Justice Department to a public hearing to explain the matter.

For her part, Commonwealth Comptroller Yesmín Valdivieso stated that she was completely in favor of disclosing the list.

The Government Committee is reviewing Senate Bill 299 to amend the Anti-Corruption Code for the New Puerto Rico in order to specify and reaffirm the legislative intention that the conviction of a Puerto Rico government contractor for any of the crimes established in the Law entails the immediate termination of the contract without any discretion by the pertinent agency.

In addition, Senate Bill 345 is being studied to amend the Anti-Corruption Code in order to impose legal responsibilities on people who admit to having committed acts of corruption but who are not prosecuted for them.

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