Today Attorney General Holder traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to join Prosecutor General Radhaméz Jiménez Peña in signing an important asset sharing agreement that marks the culmination of a major international fraud case.
This agreement, which relates to an estimated $37 million in criminal assets that are currently being recovered by U.S. and Dominican officials, represents the opening of an historic new chapter in the strong record of law enforcement cooperation that has long defined the relationship between these two nations.
These millions stem from the case of the so-called Benitez Brothers, who defrauded the Medicare Program to the tune of an estimated $80 million. But the United States could not recover these assets, or ensure justice, alone. Fortunately, thanks to unprecedented levels of cooperation between American officials and their Dominican counterparts over a period of more than two years, we were able to conduct an exhaustive investigation and build a strong case.
With this agreement, these two nations set a new standard for effective collaboration. 20 percent of all assets recovered from this case with the office of the Prosecutor General of the Dominican Republic, who will put them to good use – improving prison facilities, combating organized crime, and providing security for witnesses who are crucial to the successful prosecution of criminal cases.
Today’s signing ceremony marks the fourth time in ten years that America’s government has recognized – through asset sharing – the remarkable forfeiture assistance that Dominican authorities have afforded to the United States. It reaffirms our common values, as well as our ongoing commitment to the goals that the United States and the Dominican Republic share: protecting our citizens, strengthening our borders, improving public safety, reducing recidivism, and preventing and combating gang- and drug-fueled crime and violence.
But today’s agreement is more than an encouraging step forward, and an affirmation of the shared desire to increase cooperation and collaboration, on one specific case. The U.S. and the Dominican Republic have entered into negotiations for a permanent agreement that will govern the asset sharing relationship long into the future. We look forward to the rapid conclusion of these negotiations, and to the timely adoption of such an agreement.
The Justice Department and the Attorney General are grateful to the attorneys, investigators, and law enforcement officers – in the United States as well as the Dominican Republic – whose efforts proved so instrumental in helping to bring the Benitez Brothers to justice.