The Dominican Republic has a legal framework that includes laws and regulations to combat corruption, and which provide criminal penalties for corruption by officials. However, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Enforcement of existing laws is often ineffective. Individuals and NGOs noted the greatest hindrance to effective investigations was a lack of political will to prosecute individuals accused of corruption, particularly well-connected individuals or high-level politicians. Government corruption remained a serious problem and a public grievance.
The Dominican Republic’s rank on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index fell from 129 in 2018 to 137 in 2019 (out of 180 countries assessed). The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness report ranked the Dominican Republic as 110 of 141 countries for incidence of corruption.
In September 2019, the Dominican Supreme Court began a trial against six of the 14 defendants indicted in 2017 for alleged links to $92 million in bribes paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to obtain public works contracts. A 2016 plea agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Odebrecht implicated high-level public officials in the Dominican Republic; the six current defendants include a senator, a lower house representative, a former senator, and a former minister of public works. Civil society welcomed the trial as a step forward in the fight against corruption, but activists highlighted what they perceived as a lack of political will to investigate thoroughly the case, which involved the country’s political and economic elites.
U.S. companies identified corruption as a barrier to FDI and some firms reported being solicited by public officials for bribes. It appears most pervasive in public procurement and the awarding of tenders or concessions, but complaints from U.S. investors indicate corruption occurs at all phases of investment. At least one firm said it intended to back out of a competition for a public concession as a result of a solicitation from government officials. U.S. companies also frequently cite the government’s slow response to the Odebrecht scandal as contributing to a culture of perceived impunity for high-level government officials, which fuels widespread acceptance and tolerance of corruption at all levels. U.S. businesses operating in the Dominican Republic often need to take extensive measures to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Civil society is engaged in anti-corruption campaigns. Several non-governmental organizations are particularly active in transparency and anti-corruption, notably the Foundation for Institutionalization and Justice (FINJUS), Citizen Participation (Participacion Ciudadana), and the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (ADOCCO).
The Dominican Republic signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention. The Dominican Republic is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.
Resources to Report Corruption
Procuraduría Especializada contra la Corrupción Administrativa (PEPCA)
Calle Hipólito Herrera Billini esq. Calle Juan B. Pérez,
Centro de los Heroes, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
Telephone: (809) 533-3522
Fax: (809) 533-4098
Linea 311 (government service for filing complaints and denunciations)
Phone: 311 (from inside the country)
Phone: 809 685 6200
Fax: 809 685 6631
10. Political and Security Environment
There is no recent history of widespread, politically motivated violence in the Dominican Republic. In February and March of 2020, there were multiple, mostly-peaceful protests throughout the country over the Dominican electoral authority’s decision to suspend national municipal elections after widespread failure of its electronic voting system. There are no examples of politically motivated damage to projects or installations in the last 10 years. In polling, Dominicans consistently cite crime and violence as among the largest challenges affecting daily life. The World Economic Forum 2019 Global Competitiveness Report ranked the Dominican Republic 118 out of 141 countries in overall security imposing costs on business and 97 of 141 in terms of organized crime imposing costs on businesses.