SIP Panel declines appointment of prosecutor in Ripoll Balet case
By John McPhaul
The Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI by its Spanish initials) has accepted the recommendation of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice (DJ) not to appoint a special independent prosecutor in the case involving Chief Government Information Officer Glorimar Ripoll Balet.
The case originated with two complaints, consolidated by the DJ, in which the commission of a crime by Ripoll Balet was alleged, the PFEI said Wednesday in a written statement.
According to the DJ’s preliminary investigation report, one of the complaints came from the Rep. Ramón Luis Cruz Burgos, who alleged that during a hearing of the Health Committee of the island House of Representatives, a witness said Ripoll Balet was promoting the hiring of XUVO Technologies Inc. in the Department of Health.
Meanwhile, Roberto Mojica Paz, president of RM Communications Inc. (RMCOMM) referred the DJ to alleged actions contrary to the law on the part of Ripoll Balet. The actions allegedly consisted of the official sending a legal letter to the Office of Management and Budget ordering it to cancel a contract with RMCOMM.
The DJ report warns that most of Mojica Paz’s accusations are of a civil nature and do not constitute criminal conduct. However, all the allegations referring to Ripoll Balet’s actions were investigated.
The report adds that in the preliminary investigation, a comprehensive search and investigation was carried out on both complaints, in which the DJ deepened its analysis with respect to the 2012 Puerto Rico Penal Code; the Government Ethics Law, Law 75-2019; and the Electronic Government Law, among others.
Based on this analysis and other aspects of the aforementioned investigation, it was concluded that no evidence whatsoever exists to establish that Ripoll Balet committed violations of the law.
The DJ report warns that it cannot be ignored that Laws 75-2019 and 151-2004 give the central government full power and authority to implement a series of innovation, information and technology measures to be adopted by the agencies. In addition, they give the government the authority to take charge of the digital transformation of Puerto Rico.
Likewise, the DJ found that confusion arose regarding the initial wording of the allegations. Some 175 contracts with the number 2020-000020 exist on the Office of the Comptroller’s electronic web page, which are not consistent with the allegations referred to.
The DJ report also reaffirms that none of the allegations could be corroborated with evidence on the matter. Therefore, no sufficient cause exists to believe that Ripoll Balet engaged in criminal conduct.
To this end, acting Justice Secretary Inés del C. Carrau Martínez recommended that a special independent prosecutor not be appointed in the matter.
“Once the information collected and the extensive investigation carried out by the Department of Justice have been fully evaluated, we accept the recommendation of Acting Secretary Carrau Martínez and order the definitive shelving of this case, without further processing,” concludes the PFEI resolution, dated Dec. 15.