Miss World 2016 Stephanie del Valle has spoken up regarding the embezzlement case filed against her and her company Reignite Puerto Rico, which was responsible for bringing the Miss World competition to the island.
In a statement in English and Spanish on her social media accounts, Stephanie defended herself and the company in what she said was “defamatory.”
“The total of the federal funds that the government of Puerto Rico disbursed to Reignite Puerto Rico in advance for the promotion of the island through the celebration of the Miss World 2021 event, were frozen immediately after the cancellation of the event on December 16th. As a result of the cancellation, the funds have been returned in full to the Government of Puerto Rico.” Stephanie said.
“Injecting economic development, resources, and tourism to our island has been, is, and always will be our mission. Our only intention has been to properly manage the funds and keep our foundation away from what is frivolously alleged here.”
“We reiterate to the people of Puerto Rico and the people around the world that my foundation, none of our officers nor I have committed embezzlement or illegal appropriation of federal funds allocated by the Government of Puerto Rico, as alleged in the frivolous and malicious lawsuit filed yesterday.”
Stephanie said that she and her legal team are currently ironing out details to tell the public what really happened at the correct time. She also thanked her country for the support she has been receiving.
On Thursday, February 10, a Spanish reporter, Yennifer Alvarez wrote an article posted on the website jayfonseca.com, stating that Stephanie and her company were accused of putting the Miss World event in Puerto Rico in December despite not having the capacity and manpower to mount such a big event.
In the report, Stephanie and Reignite sought the help of Puerto Rico With a Purpose L3, where in return, they paid the company checks with a total of $ 1,225,000.00. However, the lawsuit filed states that she and her company committed fraud when the checks were denied.
The government and municipal of Puerto Rico reportedly granted more than $1.2 million for the event that was canceled after several candidates and staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The lawsuit has also raised questions of whether the Miss World finals scheduled for March 16 will push through. The organization has yet to issue a statement on the matter.
The Philippines representative, Tracy Maureen Perez hopes to bring back the crown which was won by Megan Young back in 2013.