Governor Rosselló turns the Anti-Corruption Code for the New Puerto Rico into law
(January 4, 2018 - La Fortaleza, San Juan) The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, turned into law today House Bill 1350 to create the Anti-Corruption Code for the New Puerto Rico.
Rosselló informed that “the Anti-Corruption Code for the New Puerto Rico collects and unifies the public policy of the Government against corruption—as was presented on the Plan for Puerto Rico—that was previously dispersed in multiple special laws.
“We are committed to preventing corruption and anyone who betrays the trust placed in them by the people will be prosecuted. We must make sure that all of the agencies involved collaborate in preventing and prosecuting any act of corruption,” explained the governor.
The Anti-Corruption Code strengthens the protections to whistleblowers of governmental corruption.
This action seeks that any person who has knowledge of improper acts has the confidence that they will be protected when filing a complaint.
Additionally, among the established changes, the prescriptive term is increased to three years so that any person can initiate a civil action in case of reprisals.
In the civil scope, the measure makes it easier for the State to be compensated by those whose behavior, in addition to failing the trust placed in them by the people, impacts the Treasury.
Likewise, it is stated that the Government can make a civil claim and receive compensation for triple the damage caused to the Treasury. To prove the claim, the conviction sentence of illegal conduct will be sufficient.
In the criminal scope, corruption offenses and any other offense that affect public funds are excluded from the Suspended Sentence Act (probation).
Likewise, crimes related to obstruction of justice, such as threats to witnesses or court officials, when committed in connection with crimes of corruption and other serious offenses, will be excluded from this privilege.
Administratively, it is noted that the Register of Convicted Persons of Corruption—assigned to the Department of Justice—is available to the public electronically. On the other hand, no person subject to this registry may aspire or hold any elective office.
To ensure that interagency cooperation continues and transcends different government administrations, the Interagency Group is elevated to the rank of law. For the past seven years, this effort has been led by the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Zulma Rosario.
This group is composed of: the director of the Office of Government Ethics—who presides over it—the comptroller, Yesmín M. Valdivieso; the president of the Panel of the Special Independent Prosecutor, Nydia Cotto; the secretary of Justice, Wanda Vázquez; the secretary of the Treasury, Raúl Maldonado; the Police commissioner, Michelle Hernández; US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez; the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Douglas Leff; the inspector general and any other person invited by the president of the body.
Rosario expressed that “the law meets the objective of establishing an organized set of norms that constitute the legal body that regulates the public policy of the Government of zero tolerance for corruption. Additionally, the law achieves a dissuasive effect that will advance the fight against corruption.”
The secretary of the Department of Justice stated that “the corrupt behavior of a public employee is a wrong that results in a lack of trust and credibility in the public service. This new Anti-Corruption Code for the New Puerto Rico represents a firm purpose to fight any act of corruption, wherever it comes from. The new Code provides us with more and better tools to continue promoting a public service of excellence, integrity, transparency, and effectiveness, while discouraging the devastating sense of impunity.”
Also present at the signing of the Anti-Corruption Code were the secretary of the Treasury, Raúl Maldonado; and the secretary of the Department of Public Safety, Héctor Pesquera.
Likewise, the president of the Panel of the Special Independent Prosecutor, Nydia Cotto Vives; and the sub-comptroller of Puerto Rico, Nathanael Arroyo were in attendance.
Puerto Rico district attorney, Olga Castellón, and the special agent of the FBI, Douglas Leff, were also present at the signing.