FBI investigating $300M Whitefish contract to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid: Report
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is reportedly looking into a controversial contract between Puerto Rico’s energy authority and a small U.S.-based energy startup.
Sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the terms and circumstances surrounding the $300 million contract between the island’s power authority, Prepa, and Whitefish Energy are being investigated.
The contract was canceled at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello on Sunday.
The agreement was signed by both parties on Sept. 26 and has since drawn heavy criticism. While The Journal said that the company had more than 350 workers on the ground in Puerto Rico, other reports claim the company only had two full-time employees when the contract was signed.
There is concern over how the small company, with limited large-scale experience, was awarded the contract to rebuild a portion of the island’s power grid.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Prepa was solely responsible for the contract and voiced its “significant concerns” about how the deal was procured and “whether the contract prices are reasonable.”
FEMA also said if the deal was found to have been made improperly, it would not reimburse the costs related to the work.
Whitefish Energy Holdings is based out of a small town in Montana, the same town as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The interior secretary has denied any links to the contract.
In addition to FEMA, U.S. lawmakers have begun investigating the Whitefish deal. Last week two House committees launched inquiries.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in Puerto Rico more than one month ago, about 70% of residents are still without power.