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Two Haitian Officials Indicted in Telecommunications Fraud

Two former Haitian government officials, two executives of a Miami-Dade telecommunications company and the president of a consulting firm were charged in an indictment for their alleged roles in a foreign bribery, wire fraud and money laundering scheme involving state-owned Haiti Teleco.

U.S. authorities unsealed the grand jury indictment Dec. 7th. According to the documents, the five participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery, wire fraud and money laundering. From November 2001 through March 2005, authorities say the Miami-Dade company paid more than $800,000 to shell corporations to be used for bribes to Haiti Teleco officials. The company was not named.

According to the indictment Robert Antoine, 61, of Miami and Haiti, a former director of international relations for telecommunications at Haiti Teleco, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; Jean Rene Duperval, 43, who occupied the same fonction is also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering.

The consulting firm is Florida-based Telecom Consulting Services Corp.,

According to court documents, the telecommunications company executed a series of contracts with Haiti Teleco that allowed the company’s customers to place telephone calls to Haiti. The alleged corrupt payments were authorized by the telecommunications company’s president and vice president and were allegedly paid to successive Haitian government officials at Haiti Teleco.

The purpose of these bribes was to obtain various business advantages from the Haitian officials for the telecommunications company, including issuing preferred telecommunications rates, reducing the number of minutes for which payment was owed, and giving a variety of credits toward sums owed, as well as to defraud the Republic of Haiti of revenue. To conceal the bribe payments, the defendants allegedly used various shell companies to receive and forward on the payments. In addition, they allegedly created false records claiming that the payments were for “consulting services,” which were never intended or performed.

The other individuals charged in the indictment are Joel Esquenazi, 53, of Miami, the former president of the telecommunications company, charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering; Carlos Rodriguez, 53, of Davie, Fla., the former executive vice president of the telecommunications company, is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering; and Marguerite Grandison, 40, of Miramar, the former president of Telecom Consulting Services Corp., and Duperval’s sister, is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering.

The conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA and wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The FCPA counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The conspiracy to commit money laundering count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

The indictment, which also gives notice of criminal forfeiture, recounted the events that lead to the bribes .

On April 27, 2009, Antonio Perez, the former controller of the telecommunications company, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit FCPA violations and money laundering for his role in the payment of bribes to former officials of Haiti Telco.

On May 15, 2009, Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services, a shell intermediary company, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. He admitted to receiving more than $1 million in bribe money from telecommunication companies. Diaz admitted he then laundered the money for a former Haitian government official. Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29 of next year.

U.S. authorities say their investigation continues. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Nicola J. Mrazek of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Trial Attorney Kevin Gerrity of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this matter. The cases were investigated by the IRS-CI Miami Field Office.

Duperval has been arrested in Haiti on Dec. 5 and appeared Dec. 8 in U.S. District Court in Miami.

Rodriguez and Grandison also made initial appearances in Miami. Arrest warrants have been issued for Antoine and Esquenazi.

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
May. 05, 2012

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