Spanish version

GOVERNMENT

Probe opened into DAS spending

There are allegations that the program sought to avoid oversight.

The investigation is focused on contracts issued by the Ministry of Housing.

Spanish version

Temas:

The Public Ministry is investigating the Department of Social Assistance (DAS) and the Ministry of Housing for contracts it issued at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 for the Techos de Esperanza program.

The ministry yesterday reported that the investigation will include Minister of Housing Mario Etchelecu.

"We are an open book and will allow the investigation of everything that has to be investigated," said Etchelecu.

There are allegations that the contracts were awarded without going through proper bidding processes and were broken down into deals of less than $300,000 to avoid legislative oversight. A total of $15.3 million in contracts were awarded.

For example, on March 24, 2015, the Office of the Comptroller was asked to approve four checks for the program of $138,00. The next day, it was asked to approve four additional checks of the same amount.

There have been allegations that these checks were essentially part of the same contract, and should have been scrutinized by the National Assembly because their combined value is above $300,000.

DAS officials have denied any wrongdoing.

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