Former high-ranking government officials, including several ex-ministers, have been hit with a string of corruption-related charges in the Dominican Republic, advancing a broad investigation into the administration of former President Danilo Medina.
Twenty people were arrested earlier this week, including the former finance and public works ministers, Medina’s ex-chief of staff, the ex-comptroller general, and the government’s director of casinos.
They were all charged on March 21 with a range of crimes, including embezzlement, bribery, falsifying public documents, and illicit campaign financing on an “unprecedented scale,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Since President Luis Abinader took office in 2020, a number of investigations have targeted Medina’s government ministers, security force officials, and close family members. While Medina himself has not been charged, two of his siblings and his former attorney general have faced corruption charges.
Now the process appears to be accelerating. “This investigation represents the largest corruption case…in the entire history” of the country, both in terms of the money and people involved, Hogla Enecia Pérez, a Dominican journalist who specializes in covering judicial cases, told InSight Crime.
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Pressure continues to mount on Medina as an increasing number of his former officials face serious corruption charges, suggesting the wide-ranging probe may ensnare the former president himself.
The 2,100-page indictment that accompanied the recent arrests alleged that Medina, while in office, directly instructed top officials to find illicit sources of financing for political campaigns in 2019 and 2020.
This complex web of corruption allegedly involved a range of schemes, including charging the state for debts related to construction projects, expropriation, or land sales. In one case, officials identified private properties seized for public use, whose owners were supposed to receive payments in compensation.
Fake invoices or proof of payments were created with the money then reportedly being transferred to government officials and their associates.
Some of those illicit funds were allegedly used to finance the unsuccessful campaign of Gonzalo Castillo, the 2020 presidential candidate of Medina’s Dominican Liberation Party (Partido de la Liberación Dominicana – PLD).
According to the indictment, then-Finance Minister Donald Guerrero authorized armored trucks to deliver cash directly to the office of an associate, Mimilo Jiménez, who would then personally deliver cash-stuffed suitcases to Castillo.
While the indictment stated Castillo may not have been aware of the origin of the funds, he was among those arrested this week. Guerrero, who was also arrested, has emerged as a key organizer of these schemes within the Medina government.
But while these investigations have helped Abinader maintain his reputation as an anti-corruption crusader, senators from Medina’s PLD have called attention to mounting corruption allegations within the sitting government.
Several top Abinader officials, including his former chief of staff and education minister, were dismissed last year after becoming involved in corruption allegations of their own.