FBI Agents Raid Puerto Rico Water Agency Office in San JuanMichelle Kaske
FBI agents raided the main office of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority in San Juan today, according to Moises Quinones, a spokesman for the law-enforcement agency.
Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered the water authority’s office, stayed for about 2 1/2 hours and collected documents, Quinones, who’s based in San Juan, said in a telephone interview.
The probe is part of an investigation that has been under way for “a while,” said Quinones, who declined to give more detail. “As part of obtaining evidence on a particular case, we conducted a search warrant at their offices.”
Junk-rated Puerto Rico, a self-governing U.S. territory of 3.6 million people, has been struggling to revive its economy for eight years. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has asked agencies and utilities to operate without subsidies to help balance the commonwealth’s operating budget.
“Today we received a request for documents and information by the FBI and, as has always been the policy of our administration, I have given instructions that they deliver absolutely all the documents that are required without any kind of restriction,” Alberto Lazaro, Prasa’s executive director, said in a statement in Spanish on the agency’s website.
“Since there is an active investigation taking place, we will not be making more statements about the specifics of the investigation until it is completed.”
Prasa is the island’s main water supplier, serving more than 97 percent of the population. It had $5 billion of debt as of June 30, 2013, according to financial statements. The three largest credit-rating companies give it speculative grades.
The agency had an operating loss of $292 million for the fiscal year through June 2013, following losses of about $137 million and $40 million the previous two years, according to the Government Development Bank, which handles the island’s debt sales.
Prasa raised water rates 60 percent in July 2013. Officials expect that boost will support operations until at least fiscal 2017, according to the GDB.