The FBI is reportedly investigating the $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Vitality to restore Puerto Rico’s electrical grid within the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Individuals aware of the matter advised The Wall Avenue Journal that FBI brokers from the San Juan subject workplace are inspecting the deal and the way Whitefish and the Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority (PREPA) got here to the settlement.
Neither the FBI nor Whitefish responded to requests for remark.
The report comes after Puerto Rico’s state-run electrical utility stated Sunday it had accepted the governor’s request to right away cancel its contract with Whitefish, a small Montana-based power agency headquartered in Inside Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Vitality: Home panels open probes into Whitefish energy cope with Puerto Rico Home panels investigating 0M Puerto Rico energy grid contract Dems ask for investigation into Whitefish Vitality deal MORE‘s hometown.
Throughout a Sunday press convention, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló referred to as for PREPA to “instantly” cancel the deal, which was made in September, shortly after the hurricane hit the island.
On the time the storm hit, Whitefish reportedly had solely two full-time workers. The deal drew scrutiny, with critics arguing the agency did not have expertise engaged on such a large-scale venture and that its contract with PREPA was improper, pointing to a provision that sought to restrict the federal government’s proper to audit Whitefish.
The FBI is simply the most recent authorities physique to probe the Whitefish deal.
Each the Home Vitality and Commerce and Pure Sources Committees launched investigations final week, as did the inspector common for the Division of Homeland Safety, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Administration Company (FEMA). Puerto Rico’s personal authorities can be reviewing how the contract happened.
The Trump administration has sought to distance itself from the contract. Zinke stated final week he had nothing to do with it in a forceful badertion Friday, whereas FEMA stated it didn’t approve the deal.
The utility agreed to the cope with Whitefish with no aggressive bidding course of, which is allowable below FEMA rules in emergencies. Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski stated he reached out to the utility by way of LinkedIn, and PREPA officers stated they selected Whitefish as a result of it didn’t require a big down cost, not like most mainland utilities.
Whitefish and PREPA have constantly defended the deal and stated there was nothing unlawful or improper about it.
“There’s nothing unlawful right here … Of that, we’re certain,” PREPA CEO Ricardo Ramos stated Sunday in baderting the tip of the contract. “The method was carried out in accordance with the regulation.”