The president of the Panel on the Independent Special Prosecutor (PFEI), Nydia Cotto Vives, confirmed that the preliminary investigation in relation to the failed millionaire purchase of rapid tests of Covid-19 from the company Apex General Contractors and other companies questioned for their links with the New Progressive Party (PNP) is “a law of nothing.”
“That case is really in the end. However, the investigating prosecutor, who is the lawyer Crisanta González, was granted a short term to expire on Monday, October 19 to complete some pending matters, but everything is well advanced, ”Cotto Vives revealed in an interview with THE SPOKESMAN.
The investigation began after the Health Commission of the House of Representatives carried out an investigation into the purchases of serological tests in the Department of Health at the beginning of the pandemic.
As a result of the investigation, the Chamber referred more than 11 people to the PFEI, including executive officers and government contractors. It also sent general referrals to the Office of Government Ethics (OEG), the Comptroller’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico.
Cotto Vives’ expectation is that González will submit to the panel of former judges a report on the preliminary investigation that he conducted independently on or before October 19. After that, the evaluation of the PFEI on the recommendations made by the prosecutor would begin. The panel would have to decide whether to appoint an independent special prosecutor (FEI) or to file the case.
He said that although the House sent two partial reports on the legislative investigation, everything will be consolidated into a single case. “They are not seen as two different reports, but it is consolidated. Then, those two reports that the Chamber sent us – once consolidated – become the final report that will come to the attention of the panel, ”said Cotto Vives.
For the purposes of this investigation, the Chamber chose to make direct referrals to the PFEI and not through the Department of Justice, as is the norm. “In these investigations the panel will order that a preliminary investigation be carried out, that is why an investigating prosecutor is appointed to carry out the preliminary investigation that Justice would have had to do if it had come through Justice,” he added.
He noted that once they receive the preliminary investigation report from González, they would evaluate it. He added that that process can normally take up to two weeks, but he offered no assurance. If the PFEI chooses to appoint an FEI because it understands that the investigating prosecutor’s allegations are appropriate, it would have 90 days to evaluate the case. This places the process in one that could take additional months.
“Once the panel receives a preliminary investigation report, whether in this case or in any other that Justice refers, what is done is that copies of that investigation report are made and delivered to each of the members of the panel . Once the three members of the PFEI read the report, and the time it will take depends on the report and the complexity, then I, as president, schedule a panel meeting where each one expresses their position, we analyze it and see if we agree. according to the recommended. After that we issue a resolution where we are going to explain our decision ”, he explained.
Cotto Vives did not enter into the merits of the case and the interviews that the investigating prosecutor could have done because, as he alleged, he cannot intervene in the process.
“The investigations of the prosecutors are independent and have full power to direct their investigation and what their investigative strategy will be. What they do is that they give us a report on whether it is advanced or if they are in the final stage, but they do not anticipate criteria, “said Cotto Vives.
“The final recommendation (of the investigating prosecutor) I do not know,” he added.
Long live the Ethics research
For his part, the president of the Chamber Health Commission, Juan Oscar Morales, said that he has high expectations about the report prepared by González. “I am waiting for it to be announced if they are going to be recommending an FEI or if they are not going to be recommending it,” he said.
He confirmed that he is aware that the investigation in the OEG is going “smooth sailing.”
“I had a meeting last week with the OEG where we practically sat all day exchanging information and supplying evidence that they knew we had it. Everything they requested was being provided to them, ”Morales said.
It indicated that it could not detail what type of information the OEG requested from it on this case because it is the subject of an investigation. “I’m talking about many, many documents that they requested from us,” he added.
Yesterday THE SPOKESMAN he asked the OEG for information on this case, but no response was received as of press time.
“I fulfilled my responsibility to carry out an investigation, issue a report with findings and evidence (…) Each finding is supported by evidence, now it is up to the authorities to determine if the findings and investigations made by the Health Commission are worthy a deeper investigation “, concluded the legislator.