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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PDP candidate urges agencies to act against businessman who pleaded guilty

Carlos Díaz Sánchez (X photo)

By The Star Staff

At-large Popular Democratic Party Senate candidate Carlos Díaz Sánchez called on Treasury and Justice secretaries Nelson Pérez Méndez and Domingo Emmanuelli Hernández, respectively, to take decisive measures against businessman Oscar Javier Santamaría Torres, whom Díaz Sánchez described as corrupt.

Santamaría Torres testified against former Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez Otero, who was found guilty of corruption in March 2023. He pleaded guilty in 2022 of participating in a corruption scheme with former Cataño Mayor Félix Delgado Montalvo.

Díaz Sánchez, a former New Progressive Party senator, said Santamaría Torres has been accused of not complying with his tax obligations, failing to pay income taxes and personal enrichment taxes for nearly $2 million, made through the company VIP HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS. The illicit funds, the candidate said, were used to pay bribes to mayors, allowing the company to obtain illegal contracts totaling nearly $300 million belonging to the people of Puerto Rico.

One of the corruption schemes revealed involves cash payments made by the president and treasurer of the management company operating the Diagnostic and Treatment Center of the Municipality of Cataño. Ivelisse Rivera Padilla and Carla Carrillo Torres paid Santamaría $30,000 a month in cash, money that was used to bribe mayors of several municipalities in order to obtain contracts illegally.

VIP HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS INC., was created by Santamaría Torres as revealed by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in the criminal complaint and plea agreement by Ivelisse Rivera Padilla and Carla Carrillo Torres.

Federal authorities have exposed several schemes through which the convicted businessman personally enriched himself by offering bribes to mayors in exchange for contracts.

After pleading guilty, Santamaría Torres confirmed having obtained “profits” from the company of nearly $1.8 million. In addition, he facilitated contracts from the Municipality of Cataño with VIP HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS worth $9 million between 2017 and 2022, with a monthly sum of approximately $189,000, of which the convicted contractor appropriated $30,000 “for doing nothing,” Díaz Sánchez said.

“What have the Secretaries of the Treasury and Justice done to recover the money that Santamaría had to pay?” Díaz Sánchez said. “I call on you to take legal action against other corporations belonging to the convict, such as Saint Mary Investment, Fresh Cookies PR Corp., Waste Collection, Waste Management and Queen Management LLC, among others.”

This call to action and compliance with the fiduciary responsibility of the secretaries is crucial to combat corruption and ensure that those who benefit illegally at the expense of the Puerto Rican people are held accountable before the law,” the candidate added. “We cannot continue sending the message that being corrupt, a tax evader or embezzler of public funds, pays.”

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