• The San Juan Daily Star

PDP lawmaker: Justice Dept issued a pass to ex-PREPA board chair

Rep. Luis Raúl Torres Cruz

By The Star Staff

Popular Democratic Party Rep. Luis Raúl Torres Cruz criticized the island Justice Department on Tuesday for “throwing in the towel” on former Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Board Chairman Ralph Kreill Rivera rather than give way to an investigation of the ex-official for allegations of conflict of interest.

Kreil Rivera resigned from the board recently amid public criticism over the high number of power outages and problems with the power service.

Torres said he received “several tips in the office at the House Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy Committee” to the effect that Kreil Rivera, an engineer, was signing off on certifications allowing electrical installations to operate while also serving as PREPA board chairman.

According to the legislator, the committee’s technical division conducted an investigation into the legality of the acts attributed to Kreil Rivera and determined that they violated Section 4 of Act 83 of May 2, 1941; Article 6 of the Code of Ethics of the PREPA Governing Board of Dec. 10, 2015; the Regulations for the Certification of Electrical Installations; Act 2 of 2018; the “Anticorruption Code for the New Puerto Rico;” as well as articles 1.2, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4 of Law 1 of 2012.

“This analysis was sent to the Department of Justice, the Government Ethics Office, and Governor Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia,” Torres Cruz said. “As recently as [Monday], the Committee received a letter from the Secretary of Justice, Domingo Emanuelli Hernández, in which he concluded that ‘there is not sufficient cause to believe that the engineer Kreil Rivera had engaged in possible criminal conduct while serving as chairman of the PREPA Governing Board.’”

“It is untenable that the Secretary of Justice, in a one-and-a-half page letter, without justifying the analysis that was allegedly conducted in the Department’s Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs, has accepted the recommendations of the DIPAC and, to that effect, has recommended to the Independent Prosecutor’s Panel not to appoint a Special Independent Prosecutor in relation to the improper and illegal actions imputed to the engineer Kreil,” the lawmaker said in a statement.

“It is demonstrated once again that in this country being a member of the New Progressive Party [NPP] serves as a shield and protection against any accusation of crime or ethical misconduct,” Torres Cruz added.

He said it is not the first time the agency has opted to “throw in the towel” when it comes to investigating a member of the NPP.

“This is confirmed if we consider that the Department of Justice has not acted in the case of [Puerto Rico Energy Bureau Chairman] Edison Avilés Deliz, who was referred for a possible conflict of interest in relation to his duties,” he said. “Now they have exonerated Kreil Rivera, who clearly committed acts that, at a minimum, are violations of the Government Ethics Law.”

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