SANTO DOMINGO – The commission that investigated the decision to select a consortium led by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to build a coal-fired power plant in the southern Dominican Republic said the process was mostly in accordance with the law and that its price was within a reasonable range.
In presenting the report drawn up over a period of six months, consultant Jaime Aristy Escuder said the commission had found no proof that the process had been set up to benefit the Odebrecht-led consortium, which beat out other bidders for the $2 billion project in Punta Catalina.
He recommended, however, that a procurement and contracting law be modified because it left the government at a disadvantage in terms of securing better contract conditions and prices.
The plant has been under construction since 2013 and is scheduled to begin operating next year. It has been criticized by environmentalists, who say it will be harmful to the health of residents in Peravia province and particularly in communities near Punta Catalina and the city of Bani.
Odebrecht and its petrochemical unit Braskem pleaded guilty late last year to paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world to win business.
As part of its settlement with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland, announced on Dec. 21, 2016, the companies agreed to pay a combined penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve the charges.
Salvador, Brazil-based Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying $92 million in bribes in the Dominican Republic, was one of the companies at the heart of a $2 billion bribes-for-inflated contracts scheme centered on Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, the biggest corporate scandal in that nation’s history.