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Former Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez Arrested in Bribery Scheme with Banker, Ex-FBI Agent

Former Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vazquez was arrested Thursday on bribery plots. She allegedly kicked out government officials in exchange for greater pay. Over $300,000 to support her 2020 campaign.

Vazquez, 62, is accused of bribing co-conspirators, including a former FBI agent, a Venezuelan-Italian banker and a political consultant, according to the Justice Department.

"Public corruption undermines public confidence in our agency and fuels civil unrest," said Joseph Gonzalez, Special Agent in charge of the FBI's San Juan field office. said in a statement.

"No one is above the law. The people who are victims of this crime deserve more."

Vazquez is her second in Puerto Rico. She was elected after mass protests forced her predecessor out of office in 2019. In an interview with The Associated, Vazquez once named combating corruption as a top priority for her administration. press.

But she accepts a bribe in exchange for Vazquez replacing the head of Puerto Rico's Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions, which was scrutinizing an international bank operating in San Juan. said he agreed.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced

Julio Martín, owner of bank under audit Herrera Velutini.

Herrera and his consultant, former FBI Special Agent Mark Rossini, agreed through an intermediary to finance Vazquez's election bid in exchange for appointing a more favorable commissioner. It is said that they promised

Former Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez

Vazquez called the commissioner's resignation " In February 2020, it named a successor, who had previously worked as a consultant for Herrera's bank, in May 2020, according to the DOJ.

More than $300,000 flowed from bankers and former federal agents to Vazquez's political consultants, according to federal prosecutors.

When Vazquez lost his August 2020 primary, Herrera bribed his successor with the promise of campaign funds in exchange for ending a bank audit on favorable terms. The Department of Justice said it tried to do so. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intermediary offered to bribe someone he worked for the FBI.

A spokesman for Vazquez's former attorney general and district attorney told The Associated Press that he had no immediate comment.

The governor had previously denied wrongdoing to his service when news emerged that he could be indicted.

"As I always say, I can tell the people of Puerto Rico that I have not committed a crime and have not done anything illegal or unfair. she said. May.

Puerto Rico's first governor, Vazquez, was held federally accountable but replaced former governor Ricardo Rossello, who resigned amid controversy over accusations of corruption and economic strife. rice field.

She resigned in her 2021 after losing the New Progressive Party primary to the current government. Pedro Pierluisi.

Pierluisi said in his statement, "No one is above the law in Puerto Rico."

"Faced with this news that will certainly affect and undermine public confidence, I am determined that my administration will work together with federal authorities against those who engage in improper conduct. Where it came from and who is involved," the governor said.

Vazquez, Herrera and Rossini each face up to 20 years in prison on conspiracy, federal bribery and bona fide service fraud charges, according to DOJ.

Former Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez

In this scheme, her 50-year-old CEO of Frances Diaz is also indicted. Bank president John Blakeman, 53, Vazquez's political consultant. Both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to arrange bribes, the DOJ said Thursday. They each face five years in prison.

With post wire