WASHINGTON -- Catalina V. Villalpando, the U.S. treasurer who is under investigation over influence peddling accusations, accepted more than $147,000 from her former employer in Atlanta after she was appointed by President Bush in 1989, government financial disclosure records show.
The payments to Ms. Villalpando, which she has described in the records as severance pay from the company, Communications International Inc., are the focus of the criminal conspiracy, fraud and bribery accusations under scrutiny by federal investigators.
Ms. Villalpando, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, said in her financial reports that she also received $441,147 in salary, bonuses and commissions from the communications equipment company as she prepared to depart in the fall of 1989 and has held on to company stock worth $250,000 to $500,000.
Federal officials are barred from accepting money from their employers when they enter government service if the payments are not customarily provided to other similarly situated executives. Investigators are trying to determine whether the payments to Ms. Villalpando were intended as payment for any efforts to steer government contracts to the company, administration officials said yesterday.
Ms. Villalpando, whose signature appears on all current-issue paper money, was placed on paid leave from her $112,300-a-year job by the Treasury Department on Thursday.
In the Reagan and the Bush administrations, Communications International won millions of dollars in federal contracts set aside for minority-owned firms.