Empty prison cells.

Dominican Republic’s Ex-Minister of Finance Detained

After being accused of participation in a lottery ticket seller scheme, the former Minister of Finance for the Dominican Republic has been sentenced to preventative detention. This will last for the duration of the trial on what is now known as “Operation Squid,” an investigation into collusion and fraud involving ticket sellers for the country’s popular lotto games.

Empty prison cells.

The Dominican Republic’s latest corruption scandal is proceeding through the courts.
©Emiliano Bar/Unsplash

The case proceeds, with detention for some

Donald Guerrero, former Minister of Finance in the Dominican Republic, has had his preventative detention sentence ratified by the court. The sentence will last for 18 months and is designed to prevent the former official from fleeing the country before he can face trial as a part of the larger criminal case for “Operation Squid.”

Judge Patricia Padilla, who is a part of the Second Investigative Court of the National District in the Dominican Republic, was the one to approve the measure in early September 2023. The decision had already been discussed in April of this year, with Guerrero getting notice that it was a possibility.

Guerrero was not the only former official to be accused as a part of the case. The president’s former administrative minister, José Ramón Peralta, also is involved in the hearings. In April, both of the officials, who were represented by their own defense teams, had appeals made on their behalf.

The appeals were unsuccessful, however, after the General Directorate of Persecution of the Public Ministry spoke on the case, dismissing their claims. It was brought to the attention of the court again in July 2023, when the same court determined the coercive measure of detention should be upheld.

It was not officially mandated until September, which Deputy Attorney General Wilson Camacho clarified would be the case, back in July. Camacho heads the team that is prosecuting on behalf of the Prosecution of Administrative Corruption group, or Pepca, as they are called. The timing came down to technical reasons as stipulated in the law.

For the time being, the two officials remained on house arrest. The time has finally come for the preventative detention to be put in place, thanks to Judge Padilla’s ruling and further input from Judge Kenya Romero, who had also worked on the case.

Operation Squid’s scheme comes to an end

The next hearing for “Operation Squid” will take place on Monday, December 11, 2023, as determined by Judge Padilla. During the case, the courts and legal teams will look through a large collection of evidence which has been accrued over the months of investigation up until this point.

In total, there are over 3,000 pages of information submitted and 1,200 individual pieces of evidence for the teams to look at. On the prosecution’s side, the evidence is said to show how these officials colluded with a larger network of people to steal from the government, in connection to the selling of lottery tickets.

The amount that is reported to be stolen is equal to $308,364,700 USD. A further $38,092,110 in administrative debt caused by these events has also been reported. The former directors of the Dominican Republic’s Casinos and Gambling organization, Oscar Chalas Guerrero and Julián Omar Fernández, are also implicated and stand out members of the case.

The way the scheme worked was by forcing lottery sellers and other gaming hall owners to pay a separate fee, which was not needed by law but went directly into the corruption scheme instead. Sellers were coerced into paying the extra fee, which was embezzled by those in charge of the scheme, under threat of having their licenses taken away and slot machines seized.

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A brown squid swims in the sea.

Author: James Richardson