HomeNewsBriefStalled Corruption Case in Dominican Republic Sparks Outrage
BRIEF

Stalled Corruption Case in Dominican Republic Sparks Outrage

CARIBBEAN / 7 APR 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

The recent acquittal of a senator accused of embezzling over $100 million has sparked protests in the Dominican Republic and a "crisis of faith" in the country's judiciary, according to business leaders.

A Dominican Republic court recently acquitted Senator Felix Bautista on charges of money laundering and embezzling more than $100 million of government money through contracts he approved to a foreign development firm. A judge ruled the case should be dropped due to lack of evidence, a decision the nation's Attorney General has strongly criticized, declaring, "Impunity has triumphed."

In the wake of the ruling, street protests have popped up in numerous cities and towns, religious groups have denounced the decision and the nation's National Business Council (CONEP) questioned the judiciary's ability to do its job.

"There can be no trust in institutions and the state itself, if there’s no confidence in the independence of the judiciary," a CONEP press release said. 

Bautista has been the target of similar allegations in the past. In 2012, the senator was accused of bribing Haitian President Michel Martelly to secure labor contracts and is currently being investigated in Peru for possible illegal campaign contributions to ex-Peru President Alejandro Toledo. 

Following Bautista's acquittal, the Dominican Republic's Attorney General's Office has said it will appeal the court's decision

InSight Crime Analysis

Accusations of widespread and high-level corruption involving the Dominican Republic political elite is nothing new. In February, convicted drug trafficker Quirino Paulino Castillo claimed to have financed the campaign of Bautista-ally and former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez. That month also saw protests -- organized by the political opposition -- against a mayor accused of embezzling millions of dollars of public money. 

Security forces in the country have also been repeatedly linked to criminal activity. A top-level prosecutor recently claimed police and military are involved in 90 percent of the nation's organized crime cases. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Dominican Republic

Whether the outrage that Bautista's acquittal sparked in some sectors of the Dominican Republic will lead to a greater political crisis remains to be seen. There may be more revelations about alleged dirty political dealings -- and the judiciary's inability to independently and efficiently scrutinize these -- in the coming weeks. An indictment that the US Justice Department recently released against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez includes a statement that the country's former head of Customs -- also an ally of Fernandez and a major power broker in the Dominican Republic -- is "highly corrupt." 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 16 NOV 2021

Rival factions, secret burial sites, homicidal bosses – the ongoing trial of dozens of members of the Klansman gang in…

EL SALVADOR / 21 SEP 2021

A scrapped investigation into alleged food aid theft by officials in the administration of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has…

COCAINE / 17 NOV 2022

InSight Crime sat down with Suriname's President Chan Santokhi to discuss the multiple criminal challenges ahead for the country.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.