A Puerto Rico court late Wednesday suspended an arrest order for Luma Energy Chief Executive Officer
Even so, during a televised conference call, San Jan Superior Court Judge
Lawmakers have been seeking the information from Luma -- a consortium of
At a press conference earlier Wednesday, Puerto Rico House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernandez said it was still unclear if the company had complied with the request, despite the court order.
“As far as the House of Representatives is concerned, no one is above the law and the president of Luma is a fugitive from justice who should be detained immediately,” Hernandez said.
Among the documents Luma initially failed to provide were receipts and time-sheets for the months prior to taking control of the grid. In addition, Luma didn’t turn over emails, texts and correspondence with government officials about the deal, according to Wednesday’s court order.
The legal dispute could have lasting effects for the bankrupt U.S. territory, which is hoping to sign deals that would put private companies in charge of operating its aging and fragile energy generators.
“This paints Puerto Rico as a country where you can come and do business and ignore the legislature and the high court,” Torres said. It also makes Puerto Rico look problematic in the eyes of investors, he said.
Luma did not respond to requests for comment about the arrest order.
In a written statement late Tuesday, the company said it had already handed over more than 5,000 documents in response to Puerto Rico’s legislature. The company also accused Puerto Rican lawmaker Luis Raul Torres of trying to “undermine” the company through the document requests.
“Luma is shocked, bewildered and deeply concerned regarding the case initiated by Representative Luis Raul Torres, which is undoubtedly motivated by the politics and interests of groups that oppose the electrical transformation that has begun and that Puerto Rico desperately needs,” the company wrote.
Luma won a 15-year contract to manage the grid in a semi-privatization of the public utility that has divided the island. It came amid long-running frustration with the island’s inconsistent service and aging infrastructure, which was laid bare by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
But problems have persisted since Luma took over on June 1, sparking street protests and legislative investigations. Local lawmakers have questioned the estimated $1.5 billion price tag of the deal.
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Jonathan Levin, Michael B. Marois
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