CaribWorldNews, MIAMI, FL, Weds. Dec. 9, 2009: Five people, including two former Haitian executives at Haiti Teleco and the president of the Miami-Dade County-based telecommunications company, were yesterday indicted in a Florida court.
The five are charged with foreign bribery, wire fraud and operating a money laundering scheme, according to Acting U. S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Daniel W. Auer of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation`s (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office.
Charged on Tuesday were Joel Esquenazi, 53, of Miami and Carlos Rodriguez, 53, of Davie, the former president and executive vice president of the telecommunications company; Robert Antoine, 61, of Miami and Haiti, and Jean Rene Duperval, 43, of Miramar, Fla. and Haiti, former directors of international relations for telecommunications at Haiti Teleco as well as Marguerite Grandison, 40, of Miramar, the former president of Telecom Consulting Services Corp., and Duperval`s sister.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from November 2001 through March 2005, during which time the telecommunications company paid more than $800,000 to shell companies to be used for bribes to foreign officials of the Republic of Haiti`s state-owned national telecommunications company, Telecommunications D`Haiti (Haiti Teleco).
Additionally, the telecommunications company allegedly 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.
Prosecutors allege in court papers that 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 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 also gives notice of criminal forfeiture.
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, 2010.