Local March 18, 2015 | 6:08 pm

Dominican Republic Customs calls X-ray contract in Menendez case ‘folly’

Santo Domingo.- Dominican Republic’s Customs director on Wednesday warned he would defy a Constitutional Court ruling if it upholds the legality of a contract signed by the Defense Ministry and a company to install and operate X-ray equipment in the country’s ports, in a case linked to U.S. democratic senator Bob Menendez.

Juan Fernando Fernandez said the contract puts national security at risk because in his view, it would be in the hands of a private company, and jeopardizes not only Dominican Republic, but also its trade partners, including the United States.

He said among the contract’s "follies" figure the contract provision calling for inspection of all containers arriving at the more than 10 ports in Caribbean nation.

Another part the official calls harmful is that the original contract’s beneficiary revealed that she had "spent" more than one million dollars to get it approved, “placing its honest origin in doubt.”

Interviewed on Telesistema TV, Fernandez also calls the contract a monopoly and affirms that “the contract is harmful in all its parts.”

Buoyed by wide rejection to the agreement, business sectors filed a challenge before the Constitutional Court.

Fed probe

The contract, a key element in the federal investigation of people in US courts, Menendez among them, was transferred to Melgen, but Fernández affirms there are two other partners as yet unidentified, and once they realize that their interests are at stake, "will suddenly appear."

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