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Congressional committee digs into corruption allegations against PREPA

The latest allegations of ‘corruption and mismanagement’ raise serious questions regarding PREPA’s internal controls and ability to competently manage power restoration in Puerto Rico, the lawmakers said in the letter.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources sent a letter to the interim executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) asking for further information related to recent allegations of corruption and mismanagement of power restoration operations on the island.

“As part of its on-going oversight of Puerto Rico’s recovery, the House Committee on Natural Resources is reviewing multiple allegations of corruption and gross mismanagement in the power restoration process made against PREPA,” according to the letter signed by Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA).

“In one alleged incident, PREPA officials were reportedly paid $5,000 and provided free entry tickets, valued at $1,000 apiece, to restore power to San Juan area exotic dance clubs ahead of the scheduled restoration timeline,” the letter addressed to PREPA interim chief Justo González, stated.

“There are also allegations that PREPA restored power to their own homes and other areas before restoring power to critical locations such as San Juan’s Rio Piedras Medical Center,” the lawmakers added.

“The latest allegations of corruption and mismanagement raise serious questions regarding PREPA’s internal controls and ability to competently manage power restoration in Puerto Rico. Billions of taxpayer dollars are pledged to help Puerto Rico, but a lack of faith in Puerto Rico’s institutions remains a major barrier to recovery,” they said.

The committee gave PREPA until March 26 to provide documents and information to show all open PREPA investigations into allegations of corruption, favoritism, or abuse of authority by the utility’s employees, officials or contractors, among other issues.

The lawmakers also want information about the contents of PREPA’s Warehouse 5 in Palo Seco since Sept. 20, 2017, when Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico.

Click here to read the full letter.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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