Local April 9, 2015 | 8:23 am

‘Corrupt’ ex Dominican Republic Customs chief slams Sen. Menendez

Santo Domingo.- A former Customs Agency director on Thursday revealed being pressured by Salomon Melgen, a top campaign contributor and friend of US Sen. Robert Menendez, to accept a contract to operate X-ray scanners in Dominican Republic’s ports

Rafael Camilo, described as a “very corrupt official” in the US Justice Department’s indictment of Menendez, said he became aware of the X-ray contract of the company ICSSI when appointed in Customs. “That contract was signed by the Defense Minister and handed to Customs, like saying here, that’s the rule.”

He said Customs didn’t take part in the contract’s elaboration, which the former official says was set a US$150 fee per container scanned. “You can imagine the negative impact on our economy, which is already not very competitive.”

Camilo said the contract granted 20-year exclusivity at the ports, converting ICSSI “into the virtual Customs agency” and stressed that it was the result of “influence peddling.”

“One day Dr. Salomon Melgen comes to Customs and claims he’s the owner of the contract. I told him that I wouldn’t enforce that contract. I told him that was under the belief that he was an eye doctor,” Camilo said.

He said that’s when he became involved in the Menendez case. “Amid all this the Menendez probe is launched. A US prosecutor asks me about the contract. He asked me if I had a relation with Menendez, I told him I had met with Melgen in 2012.”

“As to reports of my extradition, they stem from the fact that the indictment names a ‘person C’, confusing my last name of Camilo, but also calls me a corrupt person,” Camilo said.

“A lobbyist working for Menendez and Melgen is the one who calls me corrupt and pressed the US Dept. of State to get the contract enforced,” the former official said, interviewed on Colorvision Channel 9.

The also member of the ruling party’s (PLD) highest echelon the Political Committee said he was pressed to accept the contract granted by former president (2000-2004) Hipolito Mejia. “There was no time to approve it because it emerged late in his term.”

He revealed that the US had donated the X-ray scanners still being used at Caucedo Port. “The US donated the equipment, not against smuggling, but to detect the shipments of radioactive materials.”

“It all started when I requested the equipment, that’s when Menendez started pressuring the US government to push for the contract and reject the donation.”

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