PDP lawmaker complaint to FBI alleging use of phantom corporations to finance Pierluisi’s campaign

By The Star Staff

Popular Democratic Party Rep. Luis Vega Ramos filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi, accusing him of using shell corporations to finance his political campaign and get around limits on political donations.

Vega Ramos said a political action committee (PAC) led by an acknowledged friend of Pierluisi, Joey Fuentes, received $250,000 from questionably organized shell corporations as part of a scheme to violate federal law requiring that donors to PACs be identified. This scheme caused the PAC to issue false reports to the Federal Election Commission, the minority legislator said.

“Pierluisi’s allies and the NPP created a scheme to hide illegal donations that exceed the amounts established by law. That is why we have filed a complaint with the FBI detailing the federal crimes committed by these people in their scheme of shell corporations and donations in violation of the law,” Vega Ramos said. “We have a long list of similar cases that have resulted in federal indictments for those involved.”

A complaint had previously been filed by Jorge Dávila, campaign director of Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, against the same PAC. The PAC was originally known as PRP (the initials of Pedro R. Pierluisi) and received donations from Pierluisi’s relatives, but its name was later changed to hide its affiliation. The PAC was dormant until it was activated to receive two donations from entities created illegally with the clear purpose of hiding the origin of the funds, Vega Ramos said.

“We demand that the activities of the so-called ‘Save Puerto Rico’ PAC continue to be halted. The electoral comptroller has jurisdiction as the laundered money is being used to influence elections in Puerto Rico,” Vega Ramos said. “Likewise, we demand that the identities of the donors to this PAC used by the ghost entities be made public. We demand that this illegal scheme be stopped immediately and those responsible be investigated.”

The Puerto Rico Department of State determined that the non-profit corporations Fundación Pro Igualdad Inc. and Foundation for Progress Inc., which donated $250,000 to the super PAC Salvemos a Puerto Rico, which campaigns on behalf of Pierluisi, were registered without complying with the requirements of the General Law of Corporations, making them null.

Both corporations appear as canceled since Aug. 4 at 7:49 p.m., according to the State Department’s online Registry of Corporations.

On June 25, the super PAC received two transfers totaling $250,000 from the two phantom non-profit corporations that had been registered the same day, minutes apart, with the same postal address and without the name of a resident agent, as reflected in the Registry of Corporations.

“The corrupt scheme is obvious,” said Vega Ramos, who is seeking an at-large Senate seat. “In the record of the entities, there are only two emails with the name of each organization and two telephone numbers. The phone number listed for Foundation for Progress was in the name of a Wendy’s in Carolina, and it doesn’t work, while no one answers the phone for Fundación Pro Igualdad Inc.”

“Those who have knowingly donated or intend to donate to this scheme would be complicit in a conspiracy to blow up federal laws on contributions to political campaigns and risk criminal prosecution,” Vega Ramos added. “Likewise, we warn them that deleting messages or destroying evidence is obstruction of justice. To those who were deceived and donated thinking that this was a legitimate PAC, and in compliance with the law, I suggest cooperating with the authorities. They still have time to go to federal agencies and cooperate so as not to be considered complicit under 18 USC §2. And I warn the authors of the scheme that communicating with donors to coordinate stories is obstruction of justice.”

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