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  • Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Rossello

    Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Rossello | Photo: EFE

Published 12 July 2019

So far, three former officials of Governor Ricardo Rossello's team have been arrested on corruption charges.

Despite mounting corruption allegations and arrests of his cabinet by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello told the press Friday he will not resign.

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On Wednesday, a pair of ex-senior administration officials were arrested and charged with fraud, allegedly for abusing federal work contracts from the Department of Education. Another case was made against an official from the Health Insurance Administration (ASES). According to reports, the three corruption cases amount to US$15.5 million.

The three officials facing allegations of fraud and corruption are former ASES director, Angela Avila; ex-president of the consultancy firm, BDO Puerto Rico PSC, Fernando Sherrer; and ex-secretary of Education Julia Keleher. Additionally, subcontractor Alberto Valazquez and contractor Glenda Ponce Mendoza, and Keleher’s assistant, Mayra Ponce Mendoza, are also being probed for association.

U.S. officials say Rossello is not subject to the corruption investigation.

The governor, however, said, "I'm ashamed to have to listen to the allegations that have been made against former public officials," he said. “Those who have failed the people of Puerto Rico for acts of corruption, pay with maximum condemnation.”

Despite the charges against his former employees, Rossello said he will “not resign” and, instead, "will continue working for our people.”

The arrests come as the bankrupt U.S. territory is seeking to obtain more federal money that it needs for post-Hurricane Maria reconstruction and for increased Medicaid funding.

Puerto Rico has been in U.S. District Court since 2017 using a form of bankruptcy to restructure about US$120 billion of debt.

On Thursday, U.S. lawmakers advanced a bill to boost Puerto Rico Medicaid funding after agreeing to work on stricter safeguards for money.

The Health Subcommittee sent the legislation, which would give the U.S. commonwealth an additional $12 billion over four years, to the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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