June 14, 2021

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FEI appointed to investigate failed purchase of Covid-19 tests | government

The Panel on the Independent Special Prosecutor (PFEI) entrusted its special prosecutors with an investigation of those responsible in the process of purchasing evidence against Covid-19, for which it did not accept the recommendation of the Department of Justice not to inquire about the matter .

“Certainly we are facing a complex case of high public interest where we have the duty to ensure that no conduct goes unpunished, where human pain during a pandemic could be buried in the face of an excessive and insensitive profit motive and the interest of some to control the processes to advance agendas and unsuspected advantages ”, reads the PFEI Resolution.

For its determination, the PFEI evaluated the sworn statements in the tax summary sent by Justice. From these it appears that several officials and individuals, without legal authority, improperly intervened with clearly regulated purchasing and acquisitions processes.

This included the exercise of undue pressure on the then acting secretary of the Department of Health, Concepción Quiñones de Longo, to sign a millionaire purchase order in 20 minutes without following the analysis and rigor that the regulations require.

The Panel entrusted the in-depth investigation to Lcdo. Ramón Mendoza Rosario, Special Independent Prosecutor (FEI), who will be assisted by other delegated prosecutors according to the workload of the assignments already mentioned.

Although the initial referral included Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and other officials, the PFEI – according to the record before its consideration – focused the investigation commissioned on Lilliam Sánchez, undersecretary of the Interior; Mabel Cabeza, La Fortaleza official attached to the Covid-19 Medical Task Force, General José Burgos, former commissioner of the Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Bureau (Nmead); and Juan Maldonado, as a possible co-author.

“However, the Panel was specific that this does not entail an exemption of responsibility for various officials mentioned in the Resolution issued. As established by its enabling law, there will be no impediment for the FEI to determine to expand their investigation on these, if the quantum of evidence is obtained through which they can present a case before the courts against the other persons mentioned by Justice in its Report “, indicated the PFEI.

Against Sánchez, Cabeza and General Burgos, the investigation is predicated on possible infractions of the Penal Code in its Art. 261 (Undue influence); Art. 254 (Undue intervention in government operations); Art. 262 (Breach of duty); Art. 263 (Loss of public funds through action or omission and negligence); Art. 264 (Misappropriation of public funds); Art. 269 (Perjury).

Infringements of Art. 3.2 of the Anti-Corruption Code (Ethical Obligations and Responsibilities) are also attributed to them. As for the officials, the alleged infractions of Art. 4.2 of the Government Ethics Law will also have to be considered.

Regarding Mr. Maldonado, the investigation will focus on possible infractions of Articles 212, 254, 261 and 269 on ideological falsehood, undue intervention in government operations, undue influence and perjury, respectively. Likewise, in possible infractions to the Anti-Corruption Code.

In the letter, the PFEI specifies the constitutional mandate to ensure that the use of the people’s money is linked to the general welfare of all citizens. To this is added the public policy against corruption and the laws that combat it.

“The aforementioned mandates are not suspended in a state of emergency. Greater rigor and discipline are imposed ”, reads the Resolution, which sets out the balance between the responsibility to attend to the emergency, and the constitutional and legal obligation to ensure the control and correct use of public funds.

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