NYC building inspectors, contractors accused of bribery scheme

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2015 12:27 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dozens of landlords, contractors and building inspectors in New York City are due to be arrested for corruption on Tuesday, accused of swapping bribes for expedited building permits, local newspapers reported.

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said he would join the city's Department of Investigations and the police department on Tuesday afternoon to announce a "widespread city bribery case."

The charges followed an investigation that lasted more than a year, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed sources. Most of those accused of corruption were inspectors working for the city's Department of Buildings, the Times said.

The investigation began after an inspector was heard discussing bribes in an unrelated wiretap, the New York Post reported. A Department of Buildings spokesman said the department may comment after Vance announces the charges.

An estimated $33 billion was spent on construction in 2014, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year and a near return to the levels seen during the last building boom that ended in 2008, according to a report by the New York Building Congress, a trade group.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will focus this year on making the city a more affordable place to live, and he described construction as a big part of that plan. He wants 80,000 new affordable homes and 160,000 new market-rate homes built by 2024.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Eric Beech)