British ambassador slams the country on lack of investment security
DominicanToday.com - British ambassador Steven Fisher on Wednesday said the country lacks security for foreign investment, and cited a company he said recently shut its doors after being extorted.
However the diplomat affirmed the United Kingdom is aware of the excellent work by Dominican Republic’s legal institutions, president Leonel Fernandez’s leadership, the roles of the World Bank, European Union, the Church’s moral influence as well as civil society and the journalists whose focus is corruption, which in his view are positive signals.
Fisher said corruption complaints also come from many Dominicans as well as local and foreign investors.
He said an important British company, which he didn’t identify, recently left the country and others have told him they’ve been victims of solicited bribes, and that it’s a negative aspect also known in England.
Fisher spoke in an anti-corruption conference in the Justice Ministry, accompanied by the minister Radhamés Jiménez, Supreme Court president Subero, monsignor Agripino Núñez, Anticorruption Department director Otoniel Bonilla, among others.
Update Nov 30, 2011
Dominican business leaders rally behind the UK Ambassador
The Roundtable of Commonwealth Countries in Dominican Republic on Wednesday stated its support for British ambassador Steven Fisher, whose recent statements on alleged extortion by officials forced at least two UK companies to leave the country.
“May this missive serve to express our solidarity regarding recent statements on cases of inadequate behavior by government officials who affect foreign investment in our country,” the statement said, noting that regardless diplomatic protocol, “his alert definitely contributes toward creating heightened awareness of the evil of corruption which punishes the entire world today.”
“His attitude contributes so that all of us - public sector, private sector, Dominican and foreign - take measures to eradicate it.”
The statement signed by Roundtable executives said most Dominicans in fact aspire to reduce corruption, for which Fisher’s comments express that feeling, as opinion surveys by reputable pollsters confirm. “It’s also fair to admit that the Dominican Government makes efforts to fight corruption, having passed laws and regulations that tend to restrain that evil.”
It hailed the Ambassador’s and Great Britain’s efforts to contribute to the country’s development, affirming having “not one iota of doubt that with your views, your intention is that we Dominicans build a better society.”
“Nowadays relations between Great Britain and the Dominican Republic are among the most fruitful, balanced and important. The companies of the United Kingdom are the fifth most important investor in our country. The bonds between both states have been growing substantially in the last 25 years and it’s advisable to protect them, so they continue strengthening to benefit all Dominicans,” the Roundtable said.
It adds that as an entity, it seeks to bolster relations between Dominican Republic and the 54 Commonwealth countries, as evidenced by the local British Chamber of Commerce’s active membership in the Roundtable.
The missive is signed by its president Fernando González Nicolas, and its secretary Fernando Rainieri; British Chamber of Commerce president Marcos Peña; Canadian-Dominican Chamber of Commerce president Eduardo Domínguez Imbert; India Chamber of Commerce president Eulogio Santaella; Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Commerce president Federico Reyes, and Friends of South Africa Society president Norman de Castro.
Update 2 - DEC 16, 2011
High court to probe judge’s possible link to UK Ambassador’s extortion claim
The Supreme Court will hear the case against a judge accused of extorting 6,000 dollars from a foreign company in the country’s East region, Chief justice Jorge Subero announced Wednesday.
The Chieft Justice later identified the judge as Altagracia Sanchez Molina, of the La Romana Civil and Commercial Chamber.
The plaintiff’s lawyer turned over recordings, documents and another evidences to Subero which allegedly implicates the judge, whose name, region, or court weren’t disclosed.
"The denunciations are very concrete, with precise details," Subero told the press, calling the case “very serious.”
He said recorded phone conversations refer to money which wasn’t delivered and "consequently an adverse ruling took place," against the company, reportedly the same one of English capital which UK ambassador Steven Fisher recently denounced as being blackmailed by judicial officials.
Both cases will be treated this morning by the Council. Nevertheless, Subero Isa did not want to speculate if a relation between both denunciations exists. It added that the complaint against the judge and who he himself listened to the recordings that tie the defendant.
UPDATE 3 - New case shows similar corruption problems!!
Anticorruption files complaint, probe into major aqueduct project imminent
The Dominican Anticorruption Alliance (Adocco) yesterday submitted a denunciation and requested a probe on alleged irregularities in the construction of the aqueduct in southern Peravia province, by the Spanish company Acciona Agua.
Adocco coordinator Julio Cesar de la Rosa submitted the denunciation in the Public Purchases and Contracting Office, which notes that the Peravia Aqueduct contract violates Law 340-06 in the “Principle of equality and free competition,” that stipulates the fair participation and respect for all possible tender offers.
It also stipulates that the State will procure the participation of the highest possible number of physical or legal people who have the required competency.
“We consider suspicious the fact that the Aqueducts and Sewage systems Agency (Inapa) insists on acquiring the pipes in China, when the same are produced in the Dominican Republic, with the characteristics and quality required for the project and can be obtained at lower prices and better quality, although the contract signed with the Dominican State allows for these types of pipes to be acquired locally,” says the letter accompanying the denunciation,” cited by newspaper Hoy.
The US lists painful truths to Dominicans
Just hours after British ambassador Steve Fisher listed some painful truths about the country, US ambassador Raul Yzaguirre yesterday urged more funds to education, a solution for the electrical sector’s woes and an end to political cronyism, which in his view is the only way possible to progress and success.
Speaking in the American Chamber Commerce’s monthly luncheon, the diplomat said if those three points are dealt with a serious and strategic approach as a country priority this year, all Dominicans could obtain the country they want.
“In today’s globalised economy a good educative system is needed to be able to compete and be successful, and there’s no other factor more important than that.”
As to political cronyism and lack of transparency, Izaguirre said many Dominicans have lost faith in their institutions, and citing the problem electricity, noted that more than analysis and words are needed to confront it.
US ambassador Raul Yzaguirre below: