HAITI:THE PETROCARIBE FUND: HOW FORMER PRIME MINISTER JEAN MAX BELLERIVE GOT RICH

 

 

 

 

 

 


THE PETROCARIBE FUND: HOW FORMER PRIME MINISTER JEAN MAX BELLERIVE GOT RICH

 

 

 

Haitian Senator Youri Latortue is the new anti-corruption sheriff whose work, the first of its kind, has provided the current government an opportunity to show to the world that public corruption and abuse of government resources would not be tolerated. So far, the Haitian Minister of Justice has yet to release a statement or offer any remark about the commission report. Twelve former bureaucrats have been found to have engaged in public corruption, pay to play and lied to the commission during their testimonies. In our first article published a few days ago, we listed the names of the bureaucrats and promised to look at each case individually. This time, we look at former Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive’s involvement in the kickback scheme allegedly . ( More on the others later – our investigators are hard at work).

 

Senator Latortue’s commission interviewed several former government bureaucrats including the former Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, who between 2007 and 2011 served as both Prime Minister and Minister of Planning in charge of overseeing public works and government contracts. During Mr. Bellerive’s tenure he executed three specifically large construction contracts totaling nearly 400 million dollars.  All the contracts were executed in violation of Haitian procurement law and therefore illegal.  The illegal acts committed by Mr. Bellerive during his tenure in the Haitian government merit prosecution and a stiff prison sentence in order to deter others from such behaviors.

 

Before delving into the details of the contracts, it is helpful to remind our readers that Haiti is not the only corrupt country in the world. From Brazil to South Korea to Mexico, presidents, prime ministers, governors and government bureaucrats have been impeached and brought to justice to account for violations of the public trust and brazing corruption. Why should Haiti be any different?  Why do Haitian citizens find corruption more acceptable?

 

FELIX BAUSTITA AND THE 400 MILLION DOLLARS

 

Three construction contracts totaling nearly 400 million dollars were paid in advance to three companies tied to one man – Dominican Senator Felix Bautista. What was Mr. Bellerive’s relationship with Mr. Bautista?  At the onset, Mr. Bellerive testified before the committee that he does not know Mr. Bautista, and in fact he had no idea that any of the companies were connected to Mr. Bautista. In fact, according to his testimony totally discredited by the commission, Mr. Bellerive did not learn about the ownership of the companies until his successor, Dr. Gary Connille, started to poke around because of the suspicious nature of the contracts. Dr. Connille who testified before the committee stated that he found it rather odd that such huge contracts would be awarded to three companies with no apparent experience in either residential or commercial development. Dr. Connille’s tenure was short lived because President Martelly, who had already received part of the kickbacks in the form of 2.5 million dollars, could not afford to have the contracts rescinded. Dr. Connille was a nuisance to be disposed of.

 

FELIX BAUTISTA, is a Dominican senator with close ties to former Dominican President Leonel Hernandez. He is a man of dubious and questionable pedigree, having served time in prison for fraud. Nevertheless, his background and colorful past did not give pause to Mr. Bellerive as he awarded multi-million dollar contracts to: Hadom Constructura; Constructura Rofi, SA and Roce, SA. These three companies made Jean Max Bellerive allegedly a very rich man, enough money so he could afford a house in the Dominican Republic, an apartment in a high-rise in Miami overlooking the Miami bay waterways, and an helicopter to take him around Haiti and Dominican Republic.

 

Hadom Constructura, SA was formed in 2010 and less than a year later received its first and only contract for 33.7 million dollars. (Haitian law requires all companies to be in existence and operating at least five years prior to receiving a public contract – violation number one). It is hard to imagine that the former Prime Minister was not aware of the laws that he sworn to uphold. In addition, Haitian procurement law requires that all government contracts be submitted to a bidding process (violation number 2). The Court of Auditors in charge of ensuring that all public contracts go through this process signed off on these contracts which is suggestive of conspiracy. In addition, a few weeks after the contracts were signed, payments were made before any work could begin. The payments were made in full from PetroCaribe funds authorized by Michael Lecorps, another co-conspirator of the scheme, whose cooperation was important in ensuring payment to Bautista’s companies.

 

The second company that received another no-bid contract was Constructura Rofi, SA for 174.3 million dollars for the  development of a housing project at the Fort-National neighborhood of Port-Au-Prince. This contract, like the previous one, suffers from the same irregularities and illegality. The third contract was for 135.3 million dollars for a second housing development project in the former military airport near Route the Delmas in Port-Au-Prince. The companies have received full payment since 2012, but to this day, the construction work has not started, and no one knows when, if ever, these companies will either fulfill the contract or return the funds.

 

There are strict rules that govern government contracts. Normally the contracts are put through a bidding process that allows qualified companies, local or foreign to compete for the work. This system allows the government to get the best price from a qualified performer or vendor.  Once a company is awarded a contract, the next step is to establish a performance bond that gives the government some form of guarantee that the work will be timely performed. Normally, companies that received government contracts have many years of experience performing similar work, and they have a portfolio that allows any investigator to discern the company capabilities.

 

What would possess Mr. Bellerive, who is arguably an intelligent person, to authorize the payment of nearly 400 million dollars to three companies belonging to the same individuals with no relevant experience?  In fact, the companies were formed for the specific intent of committing fraud. Documents have shown that the contracts were awarded to the companies a year after they were incorporated. They had no specific experience, and no portfolio of having performed any type of construction work.  The motivating factor here is kickbacks. Haitian politicians and government bureaucrats have long held the view that a government position is an opportunity for a get rich.  For many years government corruption has been acceptable and the Haitian people have grown accustomed to it. Every government bureaucrat does it!  But that does not make it right.

 

During his testimony before senator Latortue’s committee, Mr. Bellerive testified that he did not know if all three companies belong to the same man (lie number one). He also testified that these contracts were issued pursuant to the Emergency Law which allows the government to shorten the waiting period (lie number 2).  While the law allows the government to short-circuit the waiting time, it doesn’t allow for issuance of no-bid contracts under any circumstances. Additionally these contracts were not for delivery of emergency service to people in distress.  They were construction development contracts that would take years to accomplish. 

 

Mr. Bellerive claimed that the negotiations were arm length negotiations as a result of conversations with former Dominican president Leonel Hernandez – another lie. Mr. Bellerive and Mr. Bautista met in the Dominican Republic and cooked up a deal to steal money from the PetroCaribe prior to the execution of the contracts. By the time Mr. Martelly became president, Mr. Bellerive had allegedly already gotten his kickback from the payment made to Felix Bautista.  Once Prime Minister Connille, a no nonsense bureaucrat took over and started to poke around, something had to be done because Mr. Bautista was getting nervous.  He had already paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Mr. Bellerive and now the president was asking for his own kickback, otherwise the contracts would be cancelled.  Jean Max Bellerive should be entered in the pantheon of the most corrupt politicians in the world. The degree of greed exercised by Mr. Bellerive during his stint as Haiti’s Prime Minister is unmatched in the hallmarks of crafts and nepotism.

Corruption is not a victimless crime, it causes serious loss and damages to the Haitian economy and to the Haitian people. For example, the PetroCaribe fund was specifically intended to be used as follow: 20% of it allocated to social projects, i.e., education, and healthcare etc.,., 80% to capital development project and investment such as road building, and other long term projects.

According to Omegaworldnews’ calculations out of the nearly 400 million dollars were allegedly paid to Bautista nearly 90 million of it were also allegedly  paid in kickbacks to Jean Max Bellerive, Michel Martelly  and eleven other people. This money could have gone towards the construction of  public schools, local clinics, providing much needed aid to poor farmers who are struggling

 

Omega Staff Writers

Next, Omega World News will expose  the  12 corrupt officials mentioned in our first article
Next Article :Wilson Laleau and Marie Carmel Jean

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