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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PREPA co-defendants want racketeering case kept under bankruptcy stay

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) co-defendants in a $1 billion lawsuit accusing them of engaging in a racketeering scheme said the case should remain under the bankruptcy stay.

The defendants, Inspectorate America Corp., Core Laboratories, Trafigura AG, Trafigura Beheer BV, Trafigura Limited, Trafigura Argentina SA, Vitol SA and Vitol Inc. made the request in a motion filed in the Marrero-Rolon vs. Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico suit in federal court.

The case, filed in 2015, was stayed following PREPA’s June 2017 bankruptcy filing. The suit is a class action made up of all PREPA ratepayers between 2002 and 2015. In 2021, the plaintiffs asked for a partial lift to the stay to proceed with discovery but the petition was denied. The judge had asked for an informative motion on the status of PREPA’s bankruptcy.

The plaintiffs alleged in the suit that PREPA conspired with its fuel oil suppliers and laboratories that tested the fuel’s quality to falsify laboratory results so that PREPA could receive fuel that did not comply with environmental standards but still pay the higher fuel price. The cost, estimated to surpass $1 billion, was passed on to the consumers in high fuel adjustment charges.

The defendants in the case said the stay should remain.

“The automatic stay still bars discovery as to PREPA,” the defendants argued in their motion.

Because PREPA had a central role in the alleged conspiracy, it will hold a substantial portion of the evidence. U.S. District Judge Jay Garcia-Gregory ruled previously in favor of the stay until PREPA ends its bankruptcy protection.

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