#HAITI NEEDS AN INTERNATIONAL PROSECUTOR TO CURB CORRUPTION / Omega Staff Writers

HAITI NEEDS AN INTERNATIONAL PROSECUTOR TO CURB CORRUPTION.

MIAMI, FLORIDA – 

Haiti needs an international prosecutor to curb corruption and assist in the strengthening of the Haitian judiciary. Being elected president of Haiti is often a welcome opportunity for the president, his family and acolytes to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. Every country is affected by corruption, but in Haiti corruption is the rule rather than the exception; and the current indictment of Dr. Baptiste, a well-known wheeler-dealer has provided ample reasons why Haiti, more than ever, needs an international group of prosecutors .

There is an ongoing cesspool of corruption involving Haitian government officials, allegedly business leaders, drug dealers, and foreigners who facilitate government corruption at all levels- all in violation of American laws. From the PetroCaribe Funds to the Clinton Connection; to Drug Trafficking; Money Laundering and the current administration of Jovenel Moise whose chief of Staff Wilson Laleau, the alleged ringleader of most of the corruption and pay to play scheme continues unabated. The PetroCaribe Theft: the misappropriation of the Petrocaribe fund is one of the most brazen thefts of Haitian government resources by no more than fifteen government officials over the course of three administrations, each one more daring than the other.

Former prime minister Max Bellerive, a close friend of the Clintons and Michael Lecorps, the former administrator of the Petrocaribe fund were the first officials to misappropriate millions of dollars of Haitian government money that could have been used to help people living in abject poverty. Mr. Lecorps and Mr. Bellerive and Martelly have used the money to purchase seaside villas in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. From 2006 to 2011 nearly a billion dollars have gone unaccounted for, yet both Mr. Lecorps and Mr. Bellerive are living in the Dominican Republic as if they did nothing wrong.

Then, came the Martelly administration in May of 2011. The disputed presidential elections resolved in favor of Martelly (much to the chagrin of OAS members and other observers) after the intervention of Queen Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State for Obama. Ms. Clinton, through her envoy Cheryl Mills, made it clear that Martelly was her chosen candidate and anyone else would be unacceptable. Martelly without missing a beat continued in the inequity of corruption and cronyism, having hired Wilson Laleau as minister of finance, the 2.3 billion dollars of the Petrocaribe fund would end up allegedly in their  bank accounts overseas. A Haitian Senate investigation conducted from 2008 to 2016 revealed that fifteen government officials had misappropriated billions of dollars, money that could have been used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure development in a country where people try to survive on less than two dollars a day. But yet, not one single official has been held accountable for the brazen theft.

Wilson Laleau, chief of staff for the current Haitian president, Jovenel Moise formerly held two official critical positions in the Martelly administration. First, he was minister of finance who oversaw the expenditures relating to the PetroCaribe fund. Laleau’s signatures found on key documents prove that he was the alleged ring leader, the key person  that made the continued theft of the Petrocaribe fund possible. He and several others orchestrated a scheme to line their pockets. Second, Mr. Laleau served as minister of commerce, that position allowed him the flexibility and possibility to approve defunct foreign companies existing in name only for fraud and money laundering.

In 2012 Mr. Laleau approved the operation of a Florida company in which he held interests. The Company existed in name only with a PO Box in Fort Lauderdale. The company received several multi-million dollar no-bid contracts for construction work that were never meant to be undertaken much less started and completed. The investigative report issued by Senator Youri Latortue concluded that Mr. Wilson Laleau and fourteen other former government officials had misappropriated billions of dollars of the Petrocaribe fund. The report calls on the administration of Jovenel Moise to pursue them. But, in an amazing twist, Mr. Wilson Laleau, the architect of the theft of the Petrocaribe ended up being the chief of staff of the current president. The reports have been sitting on a desk gathering dust while Mr. Laleau continues on his alleged quests to enrich himself.

It is reported that Mr. Laleau, a man who could hardly pay his hotel room in Orlando Florida a few years ago isalleged to be worth now well over a hundred million dollars. Where did Minister Laleau get the money?

Wilson Laleau became chief of staff, according to observers and people who are in the position to know, because of his vast influence on Jovenel Moise. It has been reported that nothing is done in Haiti without Mr. Laleau’s imprint on it. His influence has been built and refined by his extraordinary ability and talent to appropriate government money. While other former government officials like the Bellerive, Lecorps, Martelly and others have taken their ill-gotten loot and retired to their beach villas in Haiti and the Dominican Republic sipping rum and coconut water, Mr. Laleau continues in his scheme to pay to play.

The arrest of Dr. Baptiste by the FBI has enmeshed Mr. Laleau as one of the possible officials who sought to arrange the deal for Dr. Baptiste on the condition that he receives his pot-de-vin to be deposited in a foreign bank account.

 

The Clinton Connection & The Martelly Administration

Hillary and Bill Clinton did more harm to Haiti than any foreigners in recent memory. Their first trip to Haiti was in the 1970s for their honeymoon. But they did not return to Haiti until after Bill Clinton was elected president. Bill Clinton first official dealing with Haiti came after the first Coup D’etat of Aristide by Raoul Cedras. In a negotiated settlement by Warren Christopher, then secretary of state designed to bring Aristide back, the Clintons demanded concession that would impoverish Haiti. Aristide sold Haiti’s soul because of political ambition. He negotiated away Haiti’s ability to impose tariffs on foreign goods. Many of Clinton’s acolytes from Arkansas benefited greatly from the negotiation. They were able now to sell agricultural goods to Haiti at a price that would make it impossible for local farmers to compete. That was the first casualty caused by the Clintons.

The 2010 earthquake provided an unbelievable opportunity for the Clintons to take over Haiti. After the earthquake Bill Clinton became the de facto king of Haiti, having been appointed by the United Nations of its envoy pursuant to a request by his wife Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state. This position provided the Clintons with the opportunity of a lifetime. Haiti had suffered billions of dollars in damages. The Clintons pretended to move the world to donate towards the reconstruction of Haiti. Many countries gave billions and made grand promises of more money. The Clintons collected billions on behalf of Haiti through the Clinton Foundation, except that none of the money had been accounted for. After the earthquake, former Haitian president Rene Preval asked for foreign aid; the Clintons told him not to worry, they would handle the situation. The Haiti reconstruction group was formed to manage the reconstruction. However, the group turned out to be a rubber stamp for Clintons acolytes who wanted big contracts. Others who were not affiliated to the Clintons could not even bid on a contract if there was any bidding at all unless they paid the Clinton Foundation allegedly 20% of the value of the contract.

When Martelly declared his candidacy, many people did not take him seriously at first, but Cheryl Mills, a Clinton longtime aide, and lawyer had interviewed Martelly, and Hillary Clinton met with him several times and deduced that Martelly was a man they could deal with. According to people who attended several meetings with them, Hillary said of Martelly, “not too smart, but malleable.” Hillary observation of Martelly was correct. When the presidential election ended up in dispute because of the allegation of fraud, Hillary left Washington and flew directly to Port-Au-Prince to ensure that Martelly was one of the two candidates for the final runoff. Martelly knew beforehand that he would win the election, the question was what Hillary Clinton would expect in return?

Well, the deal was planned, and it was time for execution. Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham knew that Haiti is a virgin land and that there are resources there that could make him a billionaire. He quickly formed a company designed to find precious metals in Haiti – gold. On the board of director of that company are former members of the Haitian government responsible for the theft of the Petrocaribe fund. Max Bellerive, a former Haitian prime minister, Dr. Baptiste who is currently under indictment for corruption were members of the board including other bigwigs in Haiti. Wilson Laleau as minister of commerce assisted Clinton’s brother in acquiring a license to mine precious metals and gold in Haiti. This license gives Rodham rights to more than 50% of any precious metal or gold found in Haiti. Currently, the company is the only one with such a mining license in Haiti. How much did Laleau and Martelly receive from Tony Rodham to issue the mining licenses? No one has dared to discuss this, much less investigate it.

President Jovenel Moise, Drug Trafficking & Money Laundering 

For years now, drug trafficking has been a significant problem in Haiti. Small planes loaded with thousands of kilos of cocaine would land in private airstrips in northern and southern Haiti. One of those runways is owned by Haiti’s current president Jovenel Moise. Colombian drug lords found Haiti a welcome client, where government officials and members of the police would quickly rent their power and control over to drug lords and drug dealers who used Haiti as a staging station for cocaine destined to Miami. Over a thousand kilos of cocaine had been allegedly reported to have been destroyed in the basement of the Caribbean market in Delmas, Port-Au-Prince because of the earthquake.

Over the last twenty years, hundreds of people from Haiti have been arrested by the DEA and are now serving long sentences in federal prison in the United States for drug trafficking and money laundering. Drug trafficking in Haiti could not have continued for long without a way to launder the money. The money must find its way to the American economy, and Haitian businessmen and government officials have been all too willing to oblige, by using their businesses as a front to launder money. The current occupant of the Haitian palace had long been suspected of money laundering. An investigation that started in 2015, looking into unexplained cash deposits made to personal accounts owned by him and his wife had suddenly been indefinitely suspended.

Haitian politicians receive most of their political donations from drug dealers who want to assure that the flow of cocaine would continue. Michel Martelly received millions of dollars of drug money to pay for his campaign. The current president, Jovenel Moise, had most of his presidential campaign paid for by Colombian drug money. While the DEA continues to make arrests, the latest one was Guy Philippe who recently plead to money laundering, other prominent businessmen in Haiti are also involved in money laundering and have yet to be arrested and prosecuted.

Haiti Needs a “CICIG”  Commission To Combat Crimes and Government Corruption

When Guatemala wanted to protect its nascent democracy from corruption and other crimes, the country made a request for assistance to the United Nations and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala was formed. Known by its spanish acronym CICIG, the Commission’s mandate allows it to carry out independent investigations, and act as a “complementary” prosecutor to help fight crimes.

In 2007, the Government of Guatemala entered into an agreement with the United Nations. The CICIG was given a two-year mandate, and the mandate has been renewed every two years ever since. On August 31, 2013, the Secretary-General of the UN-appointed Ivan Velasquez of Columbia as head of CICIG. Since CICIG’s arrival in Guatemala, dozens of businessmen and government officials including the former president have been indicted for corruption and sentenced to prison. The current president of Guatemala and his son had been indicted for corruption. CICIG has an able prosecutor in Guatemala to conduct investigations into the criminal network involving businessmen, government officials, and other crime syndicates. A democracy cannot flourish with this level of corruption.

Haiti needs a “CICIG” like commission to help strengthen the local prosecutor in Port-Au-Prince. Such a commission can receive similar mandate and broad power to investigate government corruption and other crimes. Countries like France and Canada and other French-speaking countries may certainly participate. But the Haitian government must do precisely what Guatemala did – ask the United Nations for assistance. Senator Yourie Latortue can begin the conversation with his colleagues in the Senate. His Petrocaribe investigation revealed the extent of corruption in the Haitian government. Billions of dollars stolen by government officials. Money that could have been used to alleviate the suffering of the people.

 

For Haiti to move forward, for democracy to flourish, corruption must be kept to a bare minimum. There is no way to abolish corruption completely, but it can be curbed and be made the exception rather than the rule. 

Omega Staff Writers

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