January 22, 2021

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OIG detects possible conflict of interest in case of former Housing employee | government

The Office of the Inspector General of Puerto Rico (OIG), validated through an investigation, the possibility of a potential conflict of interest on the part of a former official of the Department of Housing, and a company of a relative in the first degree of consanguinity.

The name and position of the former official was not disclosed. In addition, the entire content of the report is confidential to “not affect future processes resulting from the findings and recommendations.”

The OIG investigation arises after a referral from the current Secretary of the Housing Department (DV), Luis Fernández Trinchet, to inquire about the relationship that linked a former Department official in charge of exercising public policy, and the company of a close relative with whom contracts were entered into through the Block Grant Program for Community Development and Disaster Recovery (CBDG-DR).

The referred documents include a monitoring report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Puerto Rico, Department of Housing Monitoring Report, B-17-DM-72-0001, dated February 18-21, 2020, in the that, among other things, informs the DV of the possibility of a conflict of interest on the part of one of its officials.

From the investigation carried out by the OIG, it appears that the public official who was in charge of establishing public policy in the DV, did not comply with his duty to formally notify his entity and the Government Ethics Office (OEG), the possible conflict ethics that linked it to the proposing companies. In addition, that during the period in which he served as a public official, amendments were formalized and made to the contracts related to his relative’s company.

Likewise, the contractor completed and submitted the bidding documents for the auction and completed the forms on ethical conflict required in the process, without alerting and informing that his family member was a DV official.

The evaluation carried out on the documents between the period from November 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 and the information collected during the investigation, is relevant, significant and sufficient to substantiate the possible irregularities contained in the report.

The OIG, in its ministerial duty to prevent corruption and misuse of public funds, made the referral to the entities concerned and for the irregularities and possible unethical conduct identified in the report to be evaluated.

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