FBI Probing $300 Million Whitefish Contract

CBS News

The FBI is reportedly investigating the $300m contract awarded seemingly without tender by Puerto Rico's power utility to Whitefish Energy, a Montana company which had just two full-time employees.

Ramos earlier said he had spoken with at least five other companies that demanded rates similar to those of Whitefish, but also wanted a down payment the agency did not have. He said the cancellation will delay pending work by 10 to 12 weeks if no alternatives are found.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he aims to restore electricity to half of the island by November 15 and to 95 percent of the island by the end of the year.

"There can not be any kind of distraction that alters the commitment to restore electrical power as soon as possible in Puerto Rico", Rossello said, adding that almost $8 million has been paid to Whitefish so far.

"We will certainly finish any work that PREPA wants us to complete and stand by our commitments knowing that we made an important contribution to the restoration of the power grid since our arrival on the island on October 2".

Rossello said he has requested that crews from NY and Florida come help restore power in Puerto Rico as he criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not meeting its goals.

"In light of the information that has come about, with regards to the contracting of Whitefish Energy and in the interest of protecting our public interest", the governor said. The controversy included how a small startup firm was able to land a lucrative $300 million contract without having to bid for it, and the fact that U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is from the same small Montana town. "Our focus continues to be on our work in Puerto Rico completing the work Prepa has tasked Whitefish to complete including the fix of the second major transmission line".

The agency on Friday said it also had "significant concerns" with the deal-which FEMA has to pay for even though PREPA signed the contract.

According to Whitefish, 350 workers have been brought to the island and the company still plans to have 500 total workers this week. "Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless".

In that context, Rossello requested Scott to come back to the island, to "visit Puerto Rico to assess and issue recommendations to expedite energy restoration efforts". So far, only 30 percent have seen their electricity return so far.

A Whitefish spokesman said the company was not aware of any such investigation and that it "is committed to full cooperation with any inquiry or investigation".

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