This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs’ Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to EB-ICS-DL@state.gov
Last Published: 8/12/2017

The Dominican Republic has a legal framework that includes laws, regulations and criminal penalties to permit the effective combating of corruption. However, the government does not implement the law effectively. Corruption remains an endemic problem in the security forces, civilian government, and private sector, and officials frequently engage in corrupt practices with impunity.

Corruption and the need for reform efforts are openly and widely discussed as key public grievances. In 2016, Transparency International gave the Dominican Republic a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score of 31, ranking it 120 of 176 countries assessed. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Competitiveness report identified corruption as the most problematic factor for doing business in the Dominican Republic, ranking the Dominican government in institutional strength as 123 out of 138 countries, and overall ranking the Dominican Republic as 92 out of 138 in its competitiveness index. Of the specific indicators, the Dominican Republic was in the bottom 20 out of 138 countries for favoritism in decisions of government officials, public trust in politicians, diversion of public funds, judicial independence, reliability of police services, and ethical behavior of firms.

Weak enforcement mechanisms and a lack of political will to prosecute criminals, particularly high-level public officials, are the primary barriers to effective investigations. No data is available to assess whether corruption disproportionately affects foreign firms, but both Dominicans and foreign residents in the Dominican Republic encounter the issue routinely. Corruption has the effects of protectionism by giving an “insider” an undue advantage over outsiders (either foreign or domestic). According to a February 2016 Gallup-Hoy poll, 46 percent of Dominicans believe that corruption has gotten worse, compared to 2014 and 2015. Dominicans point to low law enforcement salaries as part of the incentive for supplemental, illicit income. Dominicans also have a high tolerance for nepotism, often regarding it as a justified and expected activity of those with power and influence.

Giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act according to Dominican law. Articles 177, 178 and 181 of the Criminal Code prohibit public officials and judges from accepting bribes or other gifts, under the penalty of a fine twice the benefit received and no less than six months in prison. Articles 2 and 3 of the Bribery in Commerce and Investments Law (No. 448-06) prohibit individuals or corporate bodies from giving, and public officials from accepting, gifts or bribes related to their public function, under the penalty of a fine twice the benefit received and three to ten years in prison with labor. U.S. businesses operating in the Dominican Republic often need to take extensive measures to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

President Danilo Medina, who took office in August 2012, made some efforts to promote government accountability. Medina eliminated some government privileges such as luxury vehicles and lavish holiday parties. Medina also required all officials in his administration to comply with laws to declare their personal property within a month of being sworn in and when they leave office; many government officials, however, do not comply with this requirement. Although Medina allowed corruption investigations against two senators and a former Minister of Public Works, no high-profile convictions have been secured since he assumed office.

In October 2016, a Brazilian airplane manufacturer paid a criminal penalty to the United States for bribing officials of the Dominican Republic and several other countries. The case involved the buying of eight Super Tucano fighter planes by the Dominican Air Force in exchange for USD 3.52 million in kickbacks. Despite overwhelming evidence implicating key Dominican military officials, no one has yet been prosecuted. Further, in December 2016 the Dominican Republic was among those countries implicated in the far-reaching corruption scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. In a plea agreement with the United States Department of Justice, Odebrecht admitted to paying more than USD 92 million in kickbacks and bribes to Dominican officials and business people to secure construction contracts in the country.

Three government agencies have primary responsibility for countering corruption. First, the Public Ministry, led by the attorney general, is responsible for investigating and prosecuting corruption cases through the Special Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (PEPCA). The judiciary has dealt administratively with judges deemed corrupt, but no known prosecutions of corrupt judges have taken place. Second, the Chamber of Accounts, similar to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, promotes government accountability through audits and investigations, which often form the basis of PEPCA corruption cases. In 2015, the Chamber of Accounts submitted one annual audit report to Congress regarding the 2014 budget, which noted the Chamber’s continuing concern over significant deficiencies, failures and omissions in the government’s budgetary records. The Chamber of Accounts also submitted five audit reports to PEPCA with findings of misuse of public funds and lack of proper procedures, but there were few to no consequences for noncompliance. Third, the General Directorate of Ethics and Governmental Integrity operates with a strong political mandate but minimal practical results. Additionally, the Comptroller General’s Office defines management controls and accounting procedures for all government agencies, and a joint commission between the Comptroller General and Chamber of Accounts facilitates audits and investigations.

Civil society is actively engaged in anti-corruption campaigns through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media. Several NGOs 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). Government agencies have limited and often adversarial relationships with civil society organizations, though a notable example of close cooperation was the 2010 Anti-Corruption Participatory Initiative, in which civil society organizations and government institutions conducted public outreach activities and public official training to encourage effective use of the law.

The Dominican Congress ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on October 26, 2006. The UN Convention has a broader scope on corruption than do other agreements; it includes provisions regarding money laundering, obstruction of justice, private sector corruption, and asset recovery. The Dominican Republic signed the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC), though the Dominican Republic is not a party to the 1992 Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Both CAFTA-DR and UNCAC mandate that the Dominican Republic criminalize bribery.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

The Dominican Republic signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention. The Dominican Republic is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact for government agency responsible for combating 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
Email: info@pepca.pgr.gob.do

Government service for filing complaints and denunciations:

Linea 311
Phone: 311 (from inside the country)
Website: http://www.311.gob.do/

Contact for "watchdog" organization that monitors corruption:

Participación Ciudadana
Phone: +809 685 6200
Fax: +809 685 6631
Email: info@pciudadana.org

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Dominican Republic Economic Development and Investment Market Access