HAITI PETROCARIBE: WILSON LALEAU, THE PRESIDENT’S CHIEF OF STAFF IS NAMED IN CORRUPTION

 

 

 

HAITI PETROCARIBE: WILSON LALEAU, THE PRESIDENT’S CHIEF OF STAFF IS NAMED IN CORRUPTION

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti –  Wilson Laleau has been a fixture in the Haitian government for the last twelve years having served the Martelly administration as Ministers of Finance and Commerce, and now as Chief of Staff to President Jovenel Moise who owes his presidency to his predecessor and benefactor Michel Joseph Martelly another corrupt Haitian president. During his tenure as Minister of Finance, Mr. Laleau like former Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive used his position to enrich himself.  In his prior life as a university professor, Mr. Laleau was not doing well financially. As most Haitian government workers would attest, the Haitian government rarely pay its workers like university professors on time if at all.  Nevertheless, there always seemed to be enough money to go around especially to those involved in corruption, craft and nepotism.  Mr. Laleau decided in early 2008 that he needed to find more lucrative work, something where he can write his own check to fatten his bank account.

 

After all, with a wife, three kids and two mistresses, a normal government pay check for a Minister of Finance could only go so far. Life is expensive indeed, children in private schools, new cars for the wife, and of course the mistresses must also be taken care of, with vacations and shopping spree in foreign countries,  what is  a minister to do, especially  when his boss the Prime Minister is running away with all the money in flagrante delicto?  In such situation you can either join the crime and take a stand on behalf of the people. To that end, Mr. Laleau decided that instead of being honest, and show integrity, he would become part of the problem. In doing so, he made millions of dollars, and allegedly build a multimillion dollar House that will be featured in our next article.

 

Were and How did Minister Wilson Laleau came up with such a fortune.? Did Minister Laleau win the lottery.?

 

When Wilson Laleau became Minister of Finance under president Martelly, there were several contracts that had already been approved by Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, and by the time Mr. Laleau arrived, President Martelly had already pushed out Dr. Gary Conille out of the way, a man imposed on Martelly by Washington whose job was to clean house, and make the government work as it should.  Dr. Conille was too clean, too straight, too narrow, with too much integrity, too uncompromising. Martelly wanted a more compliant, agreeable person, someone willing to turn a zero into a nine and vice versa. Professor Laleau was ready and willing as long as the money was right. The Professor traded his intellect and savoir faire to serve as a peon for the lesser educated – such is the case with many Haitian intellectuals.

 

Wilson Laleau came from very humble beginning, having grew up in Port-Au-Prince, and attended the state university. He received a scholarship  which landed him in Belgium to further his studies. Like most Haitian bureaucrats, he dreamed of helping his country, but that dream get lost some where between the complexity of ethics and the contingent reality. It is hard to do what is right when your entourage is embroiled in doing wrong. It takes a very strong person to stand up to corruption. Mr. Laleau is not that man – He is neither Dr. Gary Conille nor Senator Youri Latortue. They say in Haiti that every politician or government bureaucrat has a price, and Laleau’s price was an opportunity to join the class of the rich – which he has done beautifully like a student reciting his periodic table without missing a bit. How did Mr. Laleau made his money?

 

GTC AND TROPIC BUILD WORLDWIDE HOLDING, LLC

 

GTC and Tropic Build Worldwide Holding, LLC are two companies that existed in name only, but  at least one of them (Tropic Worldwide Holding, LLC) had an address in Hollandale Beach, Florida, according to testimony of his representative Mr. Enrico Propescu identified by passport number 217797841. These two companies together received two contracts totaling nearly 30 million dollars.

 

GTC was initially contracted under Mr. Bellerive for the construction of 18 kilometers of road in Haiti for 23 million dollars – more than a million dollar a kilometer.  The contract was executed on July 21, 2011 and the work was never completed. However, between 2011 and 2012 GTC received 15 millions dollars. Between 2012-2014  Mr. Laleau as Minister of Finance under the Martelly administration authorized several payments to GTC totaling nearly 10 million dollars for a total of 25 million dollars, 2 million dollars more than the original contract called for.  Four years later, the work for which GTC was contracted  had not begun. Mr. Laleau authorized the payments knowing that the Company had no intention of doing the work. According to Senator Youri Latortue’s report, GTC received more money than the contract was called for.  The question is what happened to the extra fund?  The commission believes that the extra two million dollars landed squarely into the bank account of the former Minister of Finance, now chief of staff to President Jovenel Moise.

 

Tropic Build Worldwide Holding, LLC is a Florida company  that appeared to have registered just a  few months before receiving a 3 million dollars contract to build pre-fabricated houses and a community center in Port-Au-Prince.  On July 21, 2011 Tropic Build received an initial payment of 1.8 million dollars. Even though the work had not begun for nearly two years, Mr. Laleau authorized another payment to Tropic Build for $802,780.00. At the time, Josafa Gauthier (More on her later) was the Minister of Planning whose signature also appears on document authorizing the payment.

 

As Minister of Finance, Mr. Laleau quietly approved these payments knowing that the contracts were illegal and the payments were part of a conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering and embezzlement – all crimes against the people of Haiti. As a well educated professor, Mr. Laleau can hardly claim plausible deniability. He knew what was going on, and he was surely part of the conspiracy as concluded by the Senate Committee on the investigation. Dr. Conille who testified before committee stated clearly that it was incomprehensible how a bureaucrat such as Mr. Laleau could possibly approved such payments. “There is no way to justify such payments.” Unless of course Mr. Laleau received part of the kickback.

 

As Minister of Finance, Mr. Laleau had a specific and an affirmative duty to ensure that all contracts are in compliance with the law, and all payments are accompanied by a security bond to guarantee that the work contracted for would be completed.

He had a duty to conduct due diligence and ensure that government funds are not being misappropriated. Mr. Laleau did not simply renege on his duty but he was an active, willing participant in the conspiracy.  Mr. Michael Lecorps the manager of the Petrocaribe fund testified that he served as a “cashier” for the minister of finance – he followed orders from Mr. Laleau. He wrote checks to whomever the Minister dictated. He was not his position to question the mighty Minister, that would be too much to ask of a government bureaucrat in charge of safeguarding government money.

 

According to the commission’s report  Mr. Laleau engaged in misappropriation of government fund, by failing to investigate the nature of the payments, by authorizing several payments knowing that the companies had not started the work for which they were contracted, and probably would never perform the work considering that both companies had received payments two years in advance and no work had started. But besides all these, President Jovenel Moise tapped Mr. Laleau as his chief of staff. In most countries, Mr. Laleau would be in prison awaiting trial for corruption. But in Haiti, we promote those who excelled in craft and nepotism.  In Haiti, where there is no secret, Mr. Lalaeau’s top qualification for the position he held is believed to have been his willingness to sign check, on demand.  But, he surely helped himself along the way.  One credible source puts his new fortune to over USD $ 50 million.

Jovenel Moise, Haiti’s current president is a friend of Mr. Laleau who served as his campaign advisor. President Moise rewarded  him by naming him chief of staff. In most countries, a government bureaucrat accused of corruption would not be no where near the presidential palace much less being named chief of staff – unless of course the President was part of the corruption. Haiti is unlike any other country – a different place. What is impossible in other countries is always possible in Haiti, what is possible, logical and right is often impossible, illogical and wrong. The question many ask is what happened to Haiti?

 

The answer lies with the Haitian people. They say, every group of people gets the leader that they deserve. The fact, that President Moise find it convenient to appoint someone who is been accused of corruption is very telling, and send a strong message not only to Haitians but to Haiti’s international partners and others. How could any country or any of Haiti’s benefactor or donor takes Haiti seriously?  There is a reason why most of the aid money allocated to Haiti as foreign aid ended up with Non-Governmental organizations. The logic goes this way, if Haitian bureaucrats are poised to steal the money, donors might as well let the NGO’s keep it, perhaps the people might benefit a little from it. So, the enemies of the Haitian people are not NGO’s or foreign meddlers, they are bureaucrats like Wilson Laleau and Josafa Gauthier (More on her next week) whose greed knows no bound.

 

Haiti has a long history of corruption. There is not one single Haitian president who has not gotten rich by virtue of being president.  After the fall of the Duvaliers, Aristide became the first politician ever to be democratically elected. But that did not stop him from accumulating an 800 million dollars fortune. A few years before, Mr. Aristide could hardly afford a second-hand car but now he was living in luxury unlike the very people he claimed to care about who are barely surviving. President Preval took over, he did the exact same thing, he loaded his bank accounts with aid money and the Petrocaribe fund, while allowing Jean Max Bellerive to do likewise.  Martelly came to power at a time when many of us wanted and expected something different.  Martelly seemed genuine when he told Anderson Cooper of CNN prior to taking office that he was serious about fighting corruption.  But soon he took over as president, he  allegedly received his own 2.5 million dollars bribe from Felix Bautista the infamous Dominican Senator in exchanged for construction contracts which Mr. Bautista had no intent in fulfilling.

Mr. Martelly’s hand picked successor is the one Haitians must rely on for justice. We, at Omega have very little expectation that any of the 12 bureaucrats would ever be brought to justice to account for the crimes they have committed against the Haitian people. Next week we will examine the case against Josafa Raymond Gauthier, aka Josafa Gauthier, the former Minister of Planning under Martelly. She too was an instrumental part of the conspiracy.  Please visit our Hall-of-Shame for the names and pictures of the accused.

 

Omega World News will unmasked these alleged crooks before we publish 7000 pages of documents, checks etc.

 

Omega Staff Writers

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