SANTO DOMINGO, (Reuters) – The publication by WikiLeaks of U.S. diplomatic cables reporting alleged “rampant” business corruption in the Dominican Republic has prompted a State Department apology and denials from Dominican officials.
A 2008 cable from U.S. Ambassador to Santo Domingo Robert Fannin cited U.S. investors’ testimony that then Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez attempted in 2007 to solicit a $10 million bribe from American company Forbes Energy to enable it to build an ethanol plant in the north of the country.
In a separate 2009 cable, the embassy cited global investment firm Advent International as saying it became so disillusioned with harassment from airport department director Andres Van Der Horst, who also sought a bribe, that it would not proceed with further investments in Dominican Republic.
Both cables criticized the business climate in the Caribbean nation ruled by President Leonel Fernandez, which ranks 101 out of 178 countries listed in Transparency International’s 2010 corruption perceptions index.