San Juan – The Secretary of Justice, Inés Carrau, estimated this morning during a radio interview that some 100,000 people may have illegally applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA, for its acronym in English).
“Since the PUA fraud was discovered, we at the Department of Justice have been working hand in hand with the Department of Labor and with the Puerto Rico Police, to investigate the cases and be able to take them to court and recover the money that it has been obtained illegally, ”said Carrau in an interview on WKAQ radio with Rubén Sánchez.
In the cases in which people return the money received illegally, Carrau said that “that does not exclude them from us being able to take an action investigating them and we can file charges, because the crime was actually committed.”
“If you fraudulently requested the PUA benefits with false information, you can be sure that if Justice investigates it, it will go to the last consequences in those cases,” added the Secretary of Justice.
Asked how they are going to investigate thousands and thousands of officials who may have requested the PUA illegally, Carrau said that they are working to purge the list of public employees.
As an example, he said that regarding the complaint that Justice employees illegally requested the PUA, they confirmed that none of the names of people who received the aid are working in the Department.
For his part, the secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources, Carlos Rivera Santiago, said that they have received more than 12.5 million dollars in checks that people have returned, because they requested the PUA but later realized that they did not qualify.
Rivera Santiago stated in an interview on WKAQ radio with Rubén Sánchez that between unemployment and other aid that the Labor Department has disbursed, there are some “5 billion dollars that have been distributed in Puerto Rico.”
He explained that public employees have been mentioned on more than one occasion that they do not qualify for the PUA (or unemployment) “because they have not stopped collecting. Even if they have a second job they do not qualify for unemployment, ”said Rivera Santiago.
“We have identified thousands of cases of public employees” who receive PUA without right, said the Secretary of Labor.