New corruption allegations hit Puerto Rico's government

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A top Puerto Rico official said Tuesday that he appeared before a federal grand jury investigating a former government adviser in the latest corruption allegation to hit the U.S. territory this week.

Deputy Chief of Staff Ricardo Llerandi said he answered questions and submitted documents related to Alberto Velázquez, who was a consultant for a company that oversaw the island's Health Insurance Administration. Llerandi declined further comment, except to say that the documents aren't related to his current position and he is not being investigated.

The announcement comes a day after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló asked Puerto Rico's treasury secretary Raúl Maldonado to resign following comments he made on Monday to local radio station WKAQ. Maldonado said there was an "institutional mafia" in the agency he oversaw and that people tried to bribe him several times. Maldonado was also Puerto Rico's chief financial officer and director of the Office of Budget and Management.

Rosselló said he wasn't firing Maldonado because of his comments, but because he lost confidence in him, adding the allegations were serious and he has ordered an investigation.

"Maldonado must present all evidence he has to justice officials," Rosselló said.

Maldonado took over the Treasury Department in January, when former secretary Teresita Fuentes resigned after saying there were irregularities within the agency.

The FBI said Tuesday that it could not confirm or deny potential or ongoing investigations.

Last month, the FBI arrested the executive director of Puerto Rico's Senate Office of Government Affairs and two legislative advisers. They are accused of creating an alleged billing scheme for professional services never rendered.

The upheaval comes as Puerto Rico prepares to submit its budget for the upcoming fiscal year as it fights austerity measures sought by a federal control board overseeing the island's finances and the restructuring of some of its more than $70 billion public debt load amid a 13-year recession.