SANTO DOMINGO – A Dominican anti-corruption movement that arose after revelations that Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht bribed public officials blasted prosecutors on Friday for dropping charges against eight initial suspects in the case.
In a press conference, Marcha Verde (Green March) said the move confirmed that President Danilo Medina’s administration and the governing Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) were “criminals.”
The group slammed as “unacceptable” the lack of criminal charges against a former industry and trade minister, Temistocles Montas, who resigned amid the allegations.
Montas admitted in June 2017, shortly after being arrested that year, that he had received campaign funds from Angel Rondon, the jailed former Odebrecht commercial representative in the Dominican Republic who is accused of orchestrating the payment of bribes to public officials.
However, Montas denied engaging in any illegal activity.
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez said Thursday night that there was a lack of sufficient evidence against Montas and seven other suspects, including opposition lawmaker Alfredo Pacheco and ruling-party Sen. Julio Cesar Valentin
But he said seven Dominicans – among them Rondon and former Senate presidents Andres Bautista and Jesus Vasquez, both from the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) – would face charges of accepting bribes and money laundering.
Marcha Verde said it would protest the decision by the AG’s office by setting up a “resistance camp” outside the country’s Supreme Court building starting Friday.
Odebrecht and petrochemical unit Braskem pleaded guilty in late 2016 and agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland arising out of their schemes to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world.
As part of that settlement, Odebrecht confessed to paying $92 million in bribes in the Dominican Republic between 2001 and 2014 to win public-works contracts.
That period encompasses the 2000-2004 administration of President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) (from which the PRM split off in 2014), as well as the PLD administrations of Leonel Fernandez, who governed from 2004 to 2012, and current President Danilo Medina.