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Puerto Rican authorities arrested former Governor Wanda Vázquez on corruption charges Thursday, the latest in a string of high-profile arrests of public sector figures in the US territory, Bloomberg reported.
Vázquez is suspected of participating in a bribery scheme from December 2019 to June 2020 while serving as governor. Other alleged participants in the scam include a Venezuelan-Italian bank owner, a former FBI agent, a bank president, and a political consultant.
She denied the allegations.
Vázquez came to power in August 2019 following the resignation of her predecessor Ricardo Rosello, according to the Associated Press.
Rosello stepped down amid massive protests over corruption and mismanagement, as well as offensive comments about women, gays and victims of Hurricane Maria.
Shortly after taking office, Vázquez vowed to combat corruption, increase hurricane recovery funds and help Puerto Rico overcome a severe economic crisis as the island’s government tried to avoid bankruptcy.
She served until 2021 after losing the primaries of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party to Pedro Pierluisi, who is currently governor.
The arrest sparked anger among Puerto Ricans, who believe the island’s shaky reputation has been further tarnished. Many people are wondering whether US federal authorities will help root out entrenched government corruption.
Concerns over previous corruption cases caused a delay in federal aid for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria as the US government put more safeguards in place.
Recently, at least 10 current and past mayors have been caught up in a wave of public corruption charges that have shaken the US territory.