Dominican senator under investigation

April 3, 2012 at 3:28 PM
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, April 3 (UPI) -- A Dominican senator is under investigation for construction contracts in Haiti, prosecutors say.

Felix Bautista's office said the senator, who denies any wrongdoing, asked for the investigation following a news report in the Dominican Republic that his companies made large campaign donations to Haitian President Michael Martelly, The Miami Herald reported. Bautista, who is an ally of Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, is also alleged to have given money to Martelly's election rival, Mirlande Manigat.

Investigative journalist Nuria Pieria said she found evidence of $2.5 million gifts to Manigat before and after he was elected. She said Bautista's companies had been awarded no-bid contracts worth $200 million.

Martelly's office called the report "a media lynching."

Former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said he was unaware when he decided on the contracts that the companies involved were Bautista's. He said the contracts were awarded legally under an 18-month emergency law passed following the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince.

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