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Criminal says he donated millions to Dominican ex-president

February 19, 2015

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — A convicted drug trafficker and former captain of the Dominican Republic’s army told a local TV station Thursday that he donated millions of dollars to former president Leonel Fernandez.

A man who identified himself as Quirino Ernesto Paulino told TV station Teleradio America on a video call that he donated some $4.6 million in cash from 2002 to 2004 that was delivered in suitcases. Fernandez was elected president for a second time in 2004 after serving from 1996 to 2002.

Paulino was arrested in December 2004 following the seizure of nearly 1,400 kilograms (3,100 pounds) of cocaine, the largest ever at that time. He was extradited to the United States in 2005 on charges of money laundering and of allegedly importing 33 tons (30 metric tons) of cocaine into that country. He served a 10-year sentence following a plea deal and remains in the U.S. to testify in other cases.

Fernandez said in a brief statement that Paulino’s comments were part of a campaign to discredit him.

“Those attacks highlight the determination of my administration in confronting international organized crime groups, which it extradited as required by law,” he said.

The comments come as the Dominican Republic prepares to hold general elections next year. Fernandez has not said whether he will seek to run again, although supporters and members of his party have been promoting him as a potential candidate.

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