Top Puerto Rico officials under scrutiny for COVID-19 kits

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A group of legislators probing the failed government purchase of $38 million worth of COVID-19 testing kits referred the names of 11 people including top public officials to the FBI and other agencies on Monday for further investigation.

The report issued by the health committee of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives comes amid an ongoing investigation into the purchase order canceled earlier this year, with the government recuperating its $19 million deposit.

Among those who could face further scrutiny is Puerto Rico’s chief of staff, the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the presidents of companies that had pledged to deliver the kits.

Those named in the report have denied any wrongdoing.

One manufacturing company said it was selling the kits for less than half the value identified by one Puerto Rico company involved.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez had initially defended the attempted purchase, only to do an abrupt turn around a week later. She also ordered canceled all unrelated government contracts awarded to the companies under scrutiny.

It’s still unclear who approved the $38 million purchase of testing kits. Vázquez has repeatedly said she was never aware of the intended purchase despite a contract of that size.

Puerto Rico’s health secretary has said the FBI is investigating.

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