Omega next Article will focus on Mr Salim Succar and the purchased of over 200 Galils that supposedely  were found in the possession of Gangs in Haiti


MIAMI, FLORIDA – Haitian businessmen have a serious love affair with corruption. Kickbacks and bribing of government officials for special favors or simply to look the other way has been normalized in Haiti, so much that most Haitians have become desensitized to the notion of corruption and how it affects the country’s economy and its standing in the world. Haiti is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and that distinction is well earned and unquestionable. Haiti’s current president speak loudly about fighting corruption, but words have become more important than deeds. While he speaks of corruption, his surroundings, his advisors, his friends and political allies are knee-deep into corruption. In Haiti’s corruption is a government affair that involves everyone starting with the president. When everyone is stealing it is hard for anyone to seek to hold each other accountable.

Take the case of ONA of example, (“Office National D’Assurances), the agency is charged with encouraging those who are lucky enough to have jobs in Haiti to save for retirements. The agency is equivalent to America social security. The money collected by ONA is from government employees and other private employees. Depositors are allowed to borrow against their deposits, but most of the time they must show additional collateral including paying high interest rates. In fact, most Haitians who are depositors are unable to borrow against their deposits because of the complicated requirements. But if you are THE BOULOS, or a well connected presidential advisor like WILSON LALEAU, you can do whatever you wish with ONA including money laundering.

In the last year, ONA has made several big loans to well-connected Haitian businessmen like Reginald Boulos and government connected people like presidential advisor WILSON LALEAU at some very low interest rates with a repayment schedule that practically guaranteed that they would die before ever repaying the millions they have borrowed. ONA’s chief, Chesnel Pierre, a political appointee who was recommended by the Boulos  to take the helm of ONA had been unusually silent. The agency refused to provide an explanation as to why certain people are allowed to borrow such huge amount of money when regular depositors are unable to borrow against their own deposits.

The level of corruption inside ONA has increased since Mr. Pierre has taken over, and under President Jovenel Moise, it seems that every Haitian agency exists for one thing and one thing only, to serve the interest of corrupt businessmen and well connected politicians. Recently, President Jovenel Moise came to Florida and met with the Haitian community and Omeganews were present, the president speaks a good game and promise to crack down on corruption. But these empty promises have been made by its predecessors and benefactor, former President, Michel Joseph Martelly, who early this year finally admitted that member of his administration did indeed embezzled millions of dollars from the PetroCaribe Fund. (See article nearby – Update on Petrocaribe).

ONA is not a bank, does not have a banking charter and was not meant to operate as a bank. Depositors are allowed to borrow small sums against their retirement deposits but there is a huge penalty which is the high interest rates. Well connected businessmen like the Boulos, Irvelle Latortue wife of Seanrtor Youri Latortue and Wilson Laleau are using ONA as a bank for their own selfish interest. So far this year, ONA has approved nearly 30 loans to well connected individuals in the Jovenel government totaling nearly 50 million dollars, money that will never be repaid based on the terms of the loans. The terms of the loans are different based on who is the borrower. For example, the Boulos brothers received loans totaling ten of millions of dollars for a low interest of 3% with a 50 year repayment schedule. Technically, the Boulos would most likely die before ONA collects even 10% of the loan amount back.

This kind of corruption is what gives Haiti a bad name. Politicians seem incapable to understand why corruption is such a cancer. Corruption prevents international investors from investing in a country where their investment would most likely be wiped out by widespread corruption. Haiti needs an anti-corruption campaign made by many stakeholders. For one, international development organization can contribute more to fighting corruption. The United Nations should join forces with international group of journalist to investigate corruption just like they did in countries like Nicaragua and Panama. Haitian civil society and the Haitian people who are most affected by the corruption can take action by pushing for more investigations to hold government officials, bureaucrats like Mr. Pierre, Mr. Laleau accountable to the people they have sworn to serve.

Omega Staff Writers

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