PETROCARIBE FUND: WILSON LALEAU ALLEGEDLY PART OWNER OF IBT – A COMPANY THAT MAY HAVE VIOLATED THE US FOREIGN CORRUPTION PRACTICES ACT. 

 

 

 

 

PETROCARIBE FUND: WILSON LALEAU ALLEGEDLY PART OWNER OF IBT – A COMPANY THAT MAY HAVE VIOLATED THE US FOREIGN CORRUPTION PRACTICES ACT.

MIAMI, FLORIDA – Bribing of government officials for lucrative contracts is not a novel phenomenon. From time immemorial, government officials have received bribes and kickbacks to steer government contracts or bestow special favors on businesses, families, and friends. In most situations, companies that pay bribes to government officials for lucrative contracts often perform the work for which they were contracted for and sometimes satisfactorily. 

 

 

 

Typically, a company with a state contract would not receive full payment up front before commencing the project, unless the officials have a nefarious reason for authorizing such payments. In countries with functioning democratic institutions, transparency and rules of law prevail where companies are invited to bid openly for all kinds of government contracts. The bidding process is important, not only because it prevents favoritism, corruption, and mismanagement, but it allows the best and most qualified companies to provide services to the government at a reasonable price.

 

In Haiti, the democratization of corruption, a top-down process, commencing with the President on down to directors of agencies making bribes ubiquitous and acceptable.  Every government minister and lower ranking officials have middlemen seeking companies that pay bribes. Except in Haiti, as the PetroCaribe investigation reveals, companies had not paid bribes just to get a few contracts, they paid bribes to simply take the money – some 2.1 billion dollars and walked away, no questions asked. 

 

The Petrocaribe theft is a vivid example of the level of corruption and graft that knows no boundaries. For nearly ten years, two Haitian presidents (Rene Preval & Michel Martelly), five separate governments under five different prime ministers directly issued payments in the billions to some 22 companies.   34 contracts totaling 480 million dollars went to one company and/or its affiliates belonging to Dominican Senator Felix Bautista. Just before President Martelly took over as president, Mr. Bautista wired 2 million dollars to his bank account.  

 

No one ever asked or investigated why would a Dominican Senator wire two million dollars to a man soon to be president unless he was paying a bribe. Once Martelly became president, the Haitian government kept making payments to Bautista’s company HADOM even though the company was not doing any work. To this day, HADOM has yet to begin any of the work it received payment for much less complete them. 

 

Some of the companies are affiliated with Haitian government officials (authorizing the payments) either through family members or former business partners covered under layers of paperwork. For example, one particular Haitian company that received a multi-million dollar contract was owned by the cousin of the former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive who issued the contract and authorized the payment. Another company was formed just three months before a multi-million-dollar contract was issued to it. The company is owned by the husband of Anne Valerie Milfort who served as chief of staff to former Haitian president Michel Martelly

 

In 2012, IBT, LLC, an American company registered in the State of Florida as a limited liability company received a multi-million-dollar contract even though the company was not legally authorized to operate in Haiti. In 2013, Wilson Laleau as minister of commerce waived the legal requirements and allowed IBT to operate in Haiti.  As Minister of Finance under the Martelly administration, Mr. Laleau issued and approved a $45 million-dollar contract to IBT even after IBT failed miserably to perform on a prior contract for $22 million dollars that was authorized by Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.  

 

According to our sources, Mr. Laleau and Mr. Kiko St. Remy maintained an ownership interest in the company. In 2014, IBT LLC in Florida formed a subsidiary in Haiti calls IBT Haiti, SA owned by Wilson Laleau through a straw man.  In most countries, Wilson Laleau and his co-conspirators would have been indicted for bribery, theft, money laundering and conspiracy. But in Haiti, his unscrupulousness won him a promotion to chief of staff to current Haitian president Jovenel Moise.

The extent of corruption represents an existential threat to Haiti’s young democracy and a roadblock to developing robust functioning democratic institutions and agencies capable of delivering honest services to the people. Until and unless government officials are arrested and prosecuted for corruption, nothing will change. 

 

The United States justice department has jurisdiction over this matter. Not only IBT, LLC an American company, but the ill-gotten money was deposited into American banks in US Dollars. A year ago, the US Justice Department indicted several executives from FIFA, (Federation Internationale De Football) for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering and corruption.  Why not IBT? Why Not Wilson Laleau? We are sure Wilson Laleau will be willing to talk and make a deal. Wilson Laleau knows where all the bodies are buried, not just for corruption and money laundering but drug dealings.

OMEGA STAFF WRITERS

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