The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested the treasurer of Puerto Rico’s highway authority on charges of bribery.
Federal prosecutors in San Juan said the treasurer of the Puerto Rico Highway Authority — a major borrower in the United States municipal debt market — took bribes from contractors that supplied asphalt and concrete to the public agency that constructs and repairs roads across the island.
F.B.I. agents arrested the treasurer, Silvino Cepeda-Ortiz, at the highway authority’s office on Wednesday morning.
The arrest followed an F.B.I. raid on the main offices of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority last Tuesday that did not result in any arrests. An F.B.I. spokesman said the two raids were not related.
The federal investigations into two of Puerto Rico’s largest public corporations come as investors on the mainland United States have scooped up some of the agencies debt at steep discounts, looking to make big profits.
The bribery accusations underscore the concerns that investors and municipal debt analysts have harbored for years about the transparency and accountability of government-related agencies in Puerto Rico. Government officials — desperate to keep borrowing in the debt markets — have made efforts to be more responsive and open with investors.
In recent years, Puerto Rico has struggled with government corruption. In August, 16 former Puerto Rico police officers pleaded guilty for their roles in what the United States Attorney’s office described as a “criminal organization run out of the police department.”
According to prosecutors, the officers used their police affiliation to commit robbery and extortion, to manipulate court records in exchange for bribes, and to sell illegal narcotics.
Prosecutors said Mr. Cepeda-Ortiz, the highway authority treasurer, would accept bribes of up to $10,000 from the undisclosed contractors in exchange for paying their invoices. He was charged with bribery related to federal funds, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.
“Public officials who abuse their positions of trust for personal financial benefits undermine the integrity of our public agencies and the availability of federal funds used to finance important projects, such as our highway infrastructure,” the United States attorney in Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, said in a statement.