According to a source familiar with the inquiry, the FBI has started a preliminary probe into Whitefish Energy Holdings’ $300 million contract secured by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to rebuild the island’s power grid. In case it develops into a full investigation, the inquiry will become one of several already opened into the contract.
A Wall Street Journal report, which was released only a day after the deal was canceled by the Governor of Puerto Rico, says FBI agents from the field office in San Juan are conducting an investigation into the decision to award the controversial contract to Whitefish Energy. The FBI field office in San Juan did not comment on a possible investigation.
Although it is not yet clear which aspects of the deal would be investigated by the FBI, some members of Congress have raised concerns over how the contract was awarded to the small Montana-based company. FEMA has also raised questions as to how realistic the amount of the contract was.
The company has ties to the Trump administration, while the CEO is reportedly an acquaintance of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. A donor to Donald Trump’s campaign also owns a major stake in the Montana company, although all of them have repudiated any suggestions of wrongdoing associated with issuing the contract.
A review of the contract was opened by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security and is considered to be a high priority case. Ken Luce, the spokesman for Whitefish Energy asserted the FBI has not contacted the company.
“While Whitefish is not aware of any such investigation, Whitefish is committed to full cooperation with any inquiry or investigation,” Luce said. “The procurement of the PREPA contract was at all times fully appropriate. Our focus continues to be on our work in Puerto Rico completing the work PREPA has tasked Whitefish to complete,” Luce added.