FBI Said to Be Investigating Puerto Rico Power Contract

FBI Said to Be Investigating Puerto Rico Power Contract

About 30 percent of Puerto Rico's power has been restored six weeks after Hurricane Maria.

LDWW is handling Whitefish Energy, the tiny Montana company that had its $300M contract to rebuild Puerto Rico's power lines cancelled October 29 by the island's governor Ricardo Rossello.

The Whitefish contract states that Federal Emergency Management Administration (Fema) had approved the terms of the deal - an assertion that the disaster agency said is "inaccurate".

Officials say the company, whose CEO is originally from Central New York, originally had only two full-time employees.

Prior to the deal with Puerto Rico, Whitefish's largest federal contract was a $1.3 million deal to build 4.8 miles of transmission lines in Arizona.

"As a result of the information that has been revealed and the need to protect the public interest, as governor I am asking the power authority to cancel the Whitefish contract immediately", Rosselló said in a Sunday morning news conference at La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.

"Even before Hurricane Maria struck, Puerto Rico's human rights were already being massively undermined by the economic and financial crisis and austerity policies, affecting the rights to health, food, education, housing, water and social security", Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, a United Nations envoy on debt and human rights, said in an emailed statement.

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Puerto Rico's governor is calling for the cancellation of a multi-million dollar contract for restoring power on the island, a contract that stirred up controversy all weekend.

Even before the FBI got involved, Senate Democrats on Thursday sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting an investigation. He added that significant work had already been completed, including a project that will soon lead to 500,000 people in San Juan getting electrical power.

The White House had no comment Sunday.

Whitefish Energy said it had brought in 350 workers, 400 trucks, cranes and elevators and five helicopters to begin work to fix the electrical grid. The NYT reports that Governor Rosselló has agreed with the governors of NY and Florida to send utility crews to aid in the recovery effort going forward.

At the same time, the government of Puerto Rico is $70 billion in debt, while PREPA owes $9 billion to its creditors.

Three hours after the governor's surprise announcement, Ricardo Ramos, head of the bankrupt Puerto Rican electrical power authority, announced the contract will be canceled, but only after Whitefish complete its current work. Chiames, the Whitefish spokesman, has said that Colonnetta's political donations were "irrelevant" and that the company would cooperate with any federal authorities.