UK builder named as Dominican Government-Brit ambassador scandal widens
Santo Domingo.- Local newspaper Listin reports that although British ambassador Steven Fisher has yet to name it, court papers point toward Biwater International LTD as the UK company which allegedly left the country on its refusal to pay bribes.
It said the company (Biwater Dominicana, S.A., Consorcio, Biwatwer-Civilcad (now Biwater-Sinercon), left the country in October 2010 after to having built several aqueducts nationwide, among them San Francisco de Macorís, La Romana and San Cristóbal.
Citing court papers, the news source reports that Biwater faced litigation from 2002 to 2010, including a Supreme Court ruling that forced it to pay debts with Dominican contractors. It left the country in 2010 alleging that the Dominican Government reneged paying US$5 million on concluded work and from a lack of legal security.
In March 30, 2007, the National District 1st Civil and Commercial Court ordered Biwater International LTD to pay US$9.3 million to the contractor and plaintiff Fulgencio Marcelo Abreu. “Biwater Internacional LTD, is sentenced to pay the sum of nine million three hundred thirteen thousand eight hundred thirty and three dollars with 72 cents, of the United States of America, in favor of the plaintiff, Fulgencio Marcelo Abreu.”
“Later in May 30, 2008 the Second Chamber of the National District Civil and Commercial Appellate Court ruled against the appeal filed by Biwater International, and upheld the conviction. Then, on June 9, 2010 Supreme Court upheld the sentence that condemns the international company to pay the US$9,313,833.72.”
It said Biwater International operates in more than 50 countries and built works estimated in the hundreds of US$ millions locally, through calls for tenders by the government’s national aqueducts and sewage systems agency (INAPA).
The scandal broke Wednesday when Fisher affirmed that Dominican Republic’s alleged lack of legal security for foreign investment and extortion from officials forced several British companies to leave the country.
In addition to government officials, civil society organizations, including The Justice and Transparency Foundation, have asked Fisher to name names. In a statement issued Thursday, its president Trajano Potentini invited Fisher to channel his denunciation. He said the diplomat should submit forceful evidence and demand compliance by the Dominican Government.