A former official of the Republic of Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company was sentenced yesterday to 48 months in prison for his part in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with a foreign bribery scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; and Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office.
Robert Antoine, 62, of Miami and Haiti, was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Judge Martinez ordered Antoine to pay $1,852,209 in restitution and to forfeit $1,580,771. Antoine pleaded guilty on March 12, 2010, to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the indictment, filed on Dec. 4, 2009, Antoine was the director of international affairs for Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company, Telecommunications D’Haiti (Haiti Teleco) from May 2001 to April 2003. In that position, Antoine had primary responsibility for the relationships between U.S. telecommunications companies and Haiti Teleco. Antoine previously admitted that he accepted bribes from three U.S. telecommunications companies and thereby defrauded Haiti Teleco. To disguise the origin of these funds, Antoine admitted he laundered them through intermediary companies, including J.D. Locator Services. Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator, pleaded guilty on May 15, 2009, to conspiracy to commit violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and money laundering. Antoine admitted that a portion of the J.D. Locator funds were also laundered by Jean Fourcand of Fourcand Enterprises, who pleaded guilty on Feb. 19, 2010, to money laundering, and who was sentenced to six months in prison for his involvement in the scheme.
Antoine acknowledged that $800,000 of these bribes were intended to be given to him by a U.S. telecommunications company for which Joel Esquenazi was the president and director, Carlos Rodriguez was the executive vice president, and Antonio Perez was, at times, the controller. Perez pleaded guilty on Apr. 27, 2009, to conspiring to commit FCPA violations and money laundering.
Esquenazi and Rodriguez, as well as Jean Rene Duperval, who was director of international relations of Haiti Teleco from June 2003 to April 2004, and Duperval’s sister, Marguerite Grandison, were indicted along with Antoine on Dec. 4, 2009. Trial for these remaining defendants is scheduled to begin July 19, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Miami. An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Department of Justice is grateful to the government of Haiti for providing substantial assistance in gathering evidence during this investigation. In particular, Haiti’s financial intelligence unit, the Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers, the Bureau des Affaires Financières et Economiques, 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 case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kevin Gerrity of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Trial Attorney Nicola J. Mrazek of the Criminal Division’s Fraud 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 case was investigated by the IRS-CI Miami Field Office.