The Health Commission of the House of Representatives presented a report today after its investigation into the government procurement scandal during the emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic caused by COVID- 19 .
Eleven people are referred to various state and federal agencies.
The following are the allegations that emerge from the investigation:
Iris Santos, director of the Office of Management and Budget ( OGP): according to the report, Santos failed to limit himself to identifying that the funds were available to make the purchase of $ 38 million in COVID-19 rapid tests from Apex General Contractors.
“We understand that this was done without evaluation. the procedure used to select the company that previously was dedicated to offering maintenance services in air conditioners to the Department of Health and without having knowledge (nor procuring it) about the procedure used to select the company, ”reads the report. The Health Commission concluded that Santos failed to watch over and correctly work the purchasing process, which implies a violation of Article 263 of the Penal Code (negligence) and Article 264 (embezzlement of public funds.
Alfonso Rossy, Assistant Secretary of Accounting of the Department of the Treasury: the Health Commission imputes violations to the Government Ethics Law, likewise negligence, embezzlement of funds and violations of the Accounting Law since it authorized the disbursement of the $ 19 million in advance to Apex "without have a file that had evidence to justify such a concession, "reads the report. Rossy made that decision, according to Morales, without first verifying if Apex was a sole supplier or without verifying that evidence was scarce.
" It should be noted that the Official himself acknowledged, in a public hearing and under oath, having complied with the verbal instruction (by telephone) from Adil Rosa to make the payment in advance, merely because it was a request from a Health Department official, ”the report reads. "Even more alarming is the fact that it has also authorized the payment of 100% of the invoice amount of 313 LLC, a company that has not yet delivered all the evidence and that, at present, there is a lawsuit in the Courts" .
Rossy is also blamed for authorizing the disbursement of $ 718.5 million to the company Maitland 175 for an improper payment of taxes and is also accused of using the Telegram platform "as an official means of communication."
Segundo Rodríguez Quilinchini, member of the medical task force and rector of the Medical Sciences Campus: the Commission concluded that Rodríguez Qulinchini overstepped the powers, duties and responsibilities that were assigned to the Medical Task Force, which were limited to performing studies, investigations and strategic plans.
“In no way does it appear from the powers previously enumerated that Dr. Segundo Rodríguez had the power to intervene in decision-making “What purchases would the Department of Health make, as it did, by ordering the proceeding of $ 38 million with Apex General Contractors to proceed,” the report reads.
He is also called upon to give wrong advice “even when the Medical Task Force was recruited to offer medical advice, ”says the 141-page report. Morales referred to how "it was demonstrated" that the coordinator of the Medical Task Force never made sure that the Apex tests complied, at least, with the approval of the Federal Drug Administration, "but he did take care of knowing what the price would be, availability and delivery time, information that did not require an expert entity to evaluate aspects related to public health and safety. "
" We see that they were more concerned with the aspect of the purchase and from whom it was purchased than in verifying what it was what was being acquired. Denoting thus, its intention to influence so that the government of Puerto Rico obviate the purchasing processes already determined, to obtain the result for a particular company. It is worth noting that, coincidentally, Apex General Contractors was one of the companies referred by Dr. Segundo Rodríguez himself to conduct business with the Department of Health, "reads the report.
For this conduct, Morales imputes Rodríguez Quilinchini five violations of the Penal Code (Negligence in the fulfillment of duty, Breach of Duty, Undue influence, Breach of duty and Usurpation of a public office.
Antonio Pabón, secretary of the Interior, and Lillian Sánchez, undersecretary of the Interior : according to Morales, they failed to fulfill their duties and responsibilities, particularly the aspect of the inspection of professional services contracts signed by agencies and corporations in excess of $ 10,000 according to several memoranda signed during the four-year period.
“Both recognized that this regulation and legislation are not being complied with. Ironically, they are both, as designated s by the Governor of Puerto Rico, calls to enforce said standards. They even stated that they had not examined any contract during the course of the emergency due to COVID-19, thus failing to fulfill their duty to ensure that our government agencies comply with the established purchasing process, "the report reads.
Morales pointed them out for failing to comply with the Promise Law, which gives the Fiscal Oversight Board the authority to review and approve government contracts.
Both may have been negligent in the fulfillment of duty and violated the Law of Government Ethics “in what constitute the functions and duties that carry their positions.”
Morales took advantage of the writing of the report to sustain how surprised he is that, according to him, “officials of this high hierarchy in our Government… have declared having disobeyed our rule of law. ”
Mabel Cabeza, former official of the Department of Health: the Health Commission concluded that, despite having ceased to function It is in the Department of Health, “it continued to intervene in the purchasing processes” of Health and that, despite the fact that it said under oath that it did not intervene in the purchases of the agency, the Health Commission had access to evidence that denied it as contribution requirements to the businessman Ricardo Castro and Apex representatives sent by her.
“Mabel Cabeza used her power to reverse decisions of dismissals in the Health Department, as was that of Anaís Lacaustra Ortiz, as well as pressuring that contracts were made, especially that of his sister Lumary Cabeza in the Health Insurance Administration and that her salary be increased from $ 50 to $ 85 an hour when it did not proceed, as contrary to the existing contract between Manpower and the Department of Health, "reads the report.
According to Morales, Cabeza may have violated the Political Code, committed perjury, exerted undue influence, usurped public office and int improperly erring in government operations.
"His testimony before us was mendacious, with full knowledge of what he was doing, and with the firm intention of deceiving the elected officials who compose it," reads the report where he is also charged. to Head.
Juan Maldonado, attorney for Apex General Contractors: according to the Chamber Health Commission, Maldonado may have committed ideological falsehood in several instances when he indicated to the Health Department that Apex General Contractors was the distributor exclusive in Puerto Rico of the Covid-19 tests, when it included a brochure with the logo of the Promedical company without being the representative of that company in Puerto Rico and when it was identified as legal representative of Apex and Robert Rodríguez.
“From the testimonies poured before us, and from the documentary evidence in the Commission's possession, these assertions turn out to be false and, possibly, issued, with the intention to defraud the government of Puerto Rico, to obtain an economic benefit for itself, or for third parties, "reads the report that describes the transaction of $ 38 million as" a process run over from the beginning to the end. "
The request that Maldonado made to Rodríguez López and also the company Aaron Vick so that they could provide him images of their respective signatures to be used in the documentation that would be presented before the Department of Health, the promise that the evidence would arrive on the island in five days , the request for an advance payment of $ 19 million denotes "what appears to be a fraudulent transaction from its inception," according to Morales.
In his opinion, Maldonado could have committed fraud when he offered to deliver the evidence "without having the certainty that the materials they were going to provide had the technical quality to offer the expected result: to help the People of Puerto Rico in their desperate fight against COVID-19, ”reads the report.
According to Morales, Maldonado could have violated the Notary Law, committed falsification, perjury and violated the ethics canons of the legal profession by having granted a sworn statement without the presence of the grantor when authorizing a Corporate Resolution of Apex certifying it when Rodríguez López told the same Health Commission that he had not signed the document.
Robert Rodríguez, President of Apex: Morales indicated in his report that he did not confer probative value to Rodríguez's testimony and considered that he acted in concert and common agreement with Maldonado "to defraud the government of Puerto Rico." He points out to him that he has committed fraud, ideological falsification and falsifying documents.
“Proof of this is the fact that he has provided his signature for the transaction where his company would be used to contract with the government. Likewise, he sent him a check from your company even knowing that in transactions with the government of Puerto Rico checks are requested for the issuance of payments. In addition, we examined a copy of the text messages that Juan Maldonado exchanged with Robert Rodríguez in which they appear (insensitively) to be celebrating the approval of the purchase order and the millions of dollars they were going to earn from the sale, "reads the report
Rodríguez is also accused of having knowledge of the allegedly fraudulent documents that he presented to Salud, but he did not refer the matter to the authorities.
“However, he did concern himself with taking the steps that would have given him a economic benefit, which was to contact his bank to follow up on the transfer of the $ 19 million, "Morales said.
Ricardo Vázquez, president of 313 LLC: Morales points this out for not acknowledging that he falsely indicated to the Department of Health being the main contact on the island for the company Zogen-Genetica Molecular when he supposedly recognized that there is no contract that identifies him as such.
According to Mo In any case, this situation could imply ideological falsehood.
In addition, he points out to Vázquez for not answering multiple questions asked by the Health Commission during the public hearing in which he participated, such as revealing the profit obtained by 313 LLC from the sale of tests, if he knew Maldonado and if he has participation or relationship with several companies other than 313 LLC.
According to Morales, this conduct reflects a violation of article 298 Refusal of witnesses to appear, testify or present evidence to the Legislative Assembly or to the Municipal Legislatures .
Guarina Delgado, former assistant to the Commissioner of Emergency Management José Burgos: according to the Health Commission, she signed the contract to acquire the million tests from Apex "without having knowledge of the process carried out during the course of the transaction and in total ignorance if it had been carried out in the proper way, "reads the report.
Ottmar C havez, former General Services administrator: according to the Health Commission, despite being the administrator of the General Services Administration, he turned out to be “alienated from what are the laws and regulations applicable to government purchasing procedures” . According to Morales, Chávez prepared a circular letter designating a new procedure for the purchase and auction of professional goods, works and services, ignoring provisions of the organic law of the agency.
“In this way, his attempt to distort the sound administration is evidenced. of Puerto Rico government funds, ”reads the report, which is accused of violations of the Penal Code such as negligence, embezzlement of public funds, and violations of the Government Accounting Law.