Urban Train Faces Another FBI Inquiry
Fagundo Says Urban Train Faces Another FBI Inquiry
September 8, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) – Transportation and Public Works Secretary Fernando Fagundo said that U.S. authorities are looking into the Urban Train’s administrative operations, separate from the criminal investigation by the FBI that is already ongoing.
Fagundo said documents the FBI has requested for the criminal investigation only apply to the hiring phase for firms that built the train, agreements signed under the past administration of Pedro Rossello.
He acknowledged that the administrative investigation is headed by the Office of the Inspector General, and covers the past administration as well as the present.
Regarding the first inquiry, Fagundo told a newspaper that the FBI is investigating who decided which firms that constructed the Urban Train got contracts described as disproportionately lucrative.
“There were loaded contracts awarded to contractors in an appalling way,” Fagundo said.
Fagundo pointed out that the former secretary of the Transportation and Public Works Department, Sergio Gonzalez, and the New Progressive Party legislator Jose Aponte, supported the investigation when the FBI was focused on the actions of the present administration.
“It pains me that Sergio and Aponte are saying nonsense without knowing,” he said.
He said the administrative inquiry is focused on changes in orders and covers the entire administrative history of the Urban Train.
One of the things being investigated in the administrative phase includes an order change that was approved during the previous administration in which Siemens was paid an additional $2 million for bringing several vehicles of the train to the island and they could offer free rides before the general elections in 2000.
“After Siemens brought them, they lost the 2000 election and didn’t want to pay the company,” Fagundo said.
Fagundo made his statements in a telephone interview from Washington, where he traveled to meet with federal officials about the Urban Train.
The official asked for meetings with both the federal Transportation Secretary, Norman Mineta, and the executive director of the Federatl Transportation Administration, Jennifer Dorn, to tell them of the importance of public participation in the final phase of work on the train.
The system is in the stage known as “pre-revenue,” the final phase before the inauguration of the system.
Fagundo is exploring a plan that would allow the public to use the system for free during weekends, which would allow people to get to know the system, and authorities could continue testing the reliability of the train.