UNMASKING THE CORRUPT DOMINICAN SENATOR FELIX BAUTISTA

 

FELIX BAUTISTA

Dominican Republic Senator

  • Money laundering, abuse of power, prevarication and illicit enrichment amounting to millions of dollars: Senator Felix Bautista of the Dominican Republic has been accused of them all1. He is well-connected politically2. Efforts to prosecute him have come to naught so far3.

    It all began in the 1990s in his pre-senator days when he was appointed to various government positions related to public works, ultimately rising to become Head of the Office of Supervision Engineers of Public Works a decade later – a position he held until 2010.

  • When prosecutors compared what he reported in his asset declarations and what landed up in his bank accounts during this time, it became clear that Bautista was amassing wealth that far outweighed his modest salary of US$ 1,245.20 per month received as a public official4.

    According to a well-documented investigation carried out by the country’s Public Prosecutor’s Office and referred to the Supreme Court in October 20145, Bautista established a network of more than 35 companies that were all ultimately controlled by him. He, with the support of close associates, used these companies to gain access to public contracts awarded by the public works office he headed at the time6.

    In one instance, Bautista awarded a series of public works projects worth more than US$130 million7 to a foreign company8, but some of the funds and the responsibility for delivering some of the work initially contracted were allegedly transferred to a company that has been connected to Bautista9.

    Bautista allegedly moved his money through bank accounts in Dominican Republic and abroad, and acquired interests in more than 150 local properties – including luxury apartments, villas and asphalt plants10 – as well as a private jet and several radio stations11.

    The Public Prosecutor’s case made use of extensive evidence, including Bautista and his close associates’ bank statements and tax declarations, information from company and property registries, registration details of airplanes and radio licenses, as well as testimonials and other documents12.

    The case against him seemed unassailable13, yet in March 2015, it was dismissed due to a lack of sufficient evidence14 by a Supreme Court judge who is a member of the same political party of which Bautista is a high ranking official. This was contested by broad sections of society and led to thousands of people taking to the streets in protest15.

    Although the Public Prosecutor’s Office sought an appeal, in October 2015 the Supreme Court upheld its decision that Bautista would not have to face criminal charges, so the Senator remains a free man16.

    Bautista has faced similar allegations in the past. In 2012, he was accused of bribing Haitian President Michel Martelly to secure contracts17 and is currently being investigated in Peru for possible illegal campaign contributions to ex-Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo18.

    According to a 2014 World Bank report chronic poverty in Dominican Republic is rife and almost one-third of the population remains poor despite having the skills and assets to generate higher income. If Bautista had been diverting public funds into his own pockets as so many have alleged, this can only have served to intensify this cycle of poverty.

    Photo: Prensa809/ CC BY-SA 3.0 Cropped and desaturated from original

  • https://unmaskthecorrupt.org/#/ex2

 

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