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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 7, 2009
Two Florida Executives, One Florida Intermediary and Two Former Haitian Government Officials Indicted for Their Alleged Participation in Foreign Bribery Scheme

Two Florida executives of a Miami-Dade County-based telecommunications company, the president of Florida-based Telecom Consulting Services Corp., and two former Haitian government officials were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their alleged roles in a foreign bribery, wire fraud and money laundering scheme.

According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from November 2001 through March 2005, during which time the telecommunications company paid more than $800,000 to shell companies to be used for bribes to foreign officials of the Republic of Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company, Telecommunications D’Haiti (Haiti Teleco).

According to court documents, the telecommunications company executed a series of contracts with Haiti Teleco that allowed the company’s customers to place telephone calls to Haiti. The alleged corrupt payments were authorized by the telecommunications company’s president and vice president and were allegedly paid to successive Haitian government officials at Haiti Teleco. According to the indictment, the purpose of these bribes was to obtain various business advantages from the Haitian officials for the telecommunications company, including issuing preferred telecommunications rates, reducing the number of minutes for which payment was owed, and giving a variety of credits toward sums owed, as well as to defraud the Republic of Haiti of revenue. To conceal the bribe payments, the defendants allegedly used various shell companies to receive and forward on the payments. In addition, they allegedly created false records claiming that the payments were for "consulting services," which were never intended or performed.

The five individuals charged in the indictment are:

  • Joel Esquenazi, 50, of Miami, the former president of the telecommunications company, is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering;
  • Carlos Rodriguez, 53, of Davie, Fla., the former executive vice president of the telecommunications company, is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering;
  • Robert Antoine, 61, of Miami and Haiti, a former director of international relations for telecommunications at Haiti Teleco, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering;
  • Jean Rene Duperval, 43, of Miramar, Fla. and Haiti, a former director of international relations for telecommunications at Haiti Teleco, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering; and
  • Marguerite Grandison, 40, of Miramar, the former president of Telecom Consulting Services Corp., and Duperval’s sister, is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA and wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The FCPA counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The conspiracy to commit money laundering count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The indictment also gives notice of criminal forfeiture.

On April 27, 2009, Antonio Perez, the former controller of the telecommunications company, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit FCPA violations and money laundering for his role in the payment of bribes to former officials of Haiti Telco.

On May 15, 2009, Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services, a shell intermediary company, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. He admitted to receiving more than $1 million in bribe money from telecommunication companies.  Diaz admitted he then laundered the money for a former Haitian government official.  Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29, 2010.

The government’s investigation is ongoing. The Department of Justice is grateful to the government of Haiti for continuing to provide substantial assistance in gathering evidence during this investigation. In particular, Haiti’s financial intelligence unit, the Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF), the Bureau des Affaires Financières et Economiques (BAFE), which is a specialized component of the Haitian National Police, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security provided significant cooperation and coordination in this ongoing investigation. The indictment was unsealed today after the arrest of Duperval by the BAFE on Dec. 5, 2009, and his subsequent initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in Miami.  Rodriguez and Grandison also made initial appearances today in Miami.  Arrest warrants have been issued for Antoine and Esquenazi.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Nicola J. Mrazek of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Trial Attorney Kevin Gerrity of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this matter. The cases were investigated by the IRS-CI Miami Field Office.

Indictment

09-1307
Criminal Division
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