Mon. Sep 16th, 2019

Dominican Republic opens a trial to six politicians and businessmen for Odebrecht



Six Dominican politicians and businessmen, including a senator, will face a trial in the morning for bribes that Brazilian construction company Odebrecht revealed having distributed in the Dominican Republic to illegally award public works tendered between 2002 and 2012.

The corruption case, which is judged in the Supreme Court of Justice, is the one of greatest magnitude in the country's recent history, as it has splashed the two main political forces, the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) and the Opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM).

Odebrecht admitted in 2016 that it paid 92 million dollars in bribes to Dominican politicians to win and achieve facilities in 16 public works contracts, including roads, hydroelectric or aqueducts, whose added budgets are around 3,865 million dollars.

In contrast to what happened in some of the twelve countries in Latin America in which Odebrecht confessed to the payment of bribes, in the Dominican Republic the heads of state have not been investigated at the time of the rigged contracts, Hipólito Mejía and Leonel Fernández.

Nor is the current president, Danilo Medina, who has been in power since August 2012, a time after the last contract investigated.

The main politicians who will sit on the bench starting this Wednesday are Senator Tommy Galán, of the PLD, and the former Minister of Public Works Víctor Díaz Rúa, also a member of the ruling party.

They will also go to trial the ex-president of the Senate Andrés Bautista García, the former senator Roberto Rodríguez, both of the PRM, as well as the lawyer Conrado Pittaluga and the businessman Ángel Rondón Rijo, whom the authorities designate as the receiver and distributor of the 92 million dollars destined to the payment of coimas.

The resources were allegedly handed over to officials and legislators in exchange for expediting projects and facilitating financing in favor of the Brazilian multinational, according to the accusation.

The six defendants, who have consistently refused to receive the money, face charges of bribery, association of criminals, prevarication, embezzlement, illicit enrichment and money laundering and, if found guilty, could be sentenced to sentences between 3 and 20 years of prison

After almost a year of preliminary trial, on June 21, the Supreme Special Instruction Judge, Francisco Ortega Polanco, sent the accused to trial after ensuring that there are sufficient merits for the accusation.

The defendants will be tried by the judges of the Second Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice at a public hearing that is expected to last several weeks.

Initially, the Public Prosecutor's Office charged 14 people in this case, eight of whom were sent to pretrial detention, but then went through judicial remedies.

For the Dominican attorney general, Jean Alain Rodríguez, the trial against the six defendants marks "an unprecedented event in Dominican judicial history", since it is the case of corruption of greater magnitude that has been investigated in the country in the last 20 years.

The Odebrecht scandal evidenced a network of corruption in the country's political class, splashed the two main parties, the ruling PLD and the PRM opponent, and has worn out the current government.

The revelations about the payment of bribes took thousands of people to the streets of the country between 2017 and 2018 to demand the end of corruption and justice.

Since then, several sectors have requested that an investigation be opened against the head of state, but the Prosecutor's Office excluded the Punta Catalina thermoelectric plant, a star of Medina's management, tendered in 2014, for not finding evidence that materialized prebendas or undue exchanges.

According to documents published in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Odebrecht paid approximately $ 788 million in bribes in 12 Latin American countries, including the Dominican Republic.

The Brazilian company reached an agreement with the Dominican Prosecutor's Office in 2017 for which it will have to pay 184 million dollars in several installments, double what it admitted to have delivered in bribes in the country.

. (tagsToTranslate) Dominican Republic (t) (t) politicians (t) businessmen (t) Odebrecht



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