Former Haitian Government Official Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Role in Scheme to Launder Bribes
WASHINGTON – Jean Rene Duperval, a former director of international relations for Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (Haiti Teleco), a Haitian state-owned telecommunications company, was sentenced today to nine years in prison for his role in a scheme to launder bribes paid to him by two Miami-based telecommunications companies.
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer; and Special Agent in Charge Jose A. Gonzalez of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office.
Duperval, 45, of Miramar, Fla., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in the Southern District of Florida. Judge Martinez also ordered Duperval to forfeit $497,331.
Duperval was convicted in March 2012 of two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 19 counts of money laundering. He has been in custody since his conviction.
“Mr. Duperval took bribes in exchange for giving companies an unfair and illegal advantage in the marketplace, and then tried to hide these illicit transactions behind the cloak of shell corporations and fake invoices,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Just as we prosecute corrupt businesspeople under the FCPA, we will hold accountable corrupt foreign officials when they seek to launder the proceeds of that bribery through the U.S. financial system. Today’s nine-year prison sentence sends a strong message to foreign officials and others who would facilitate foreign corruption that they will face serious consequences.”
“Duperval’s money laundering scheme was an attempt to conceal the payment of bribes to foreign officials to obtain an unfair business advantage in the marketplace,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “Today’s sentence, however, helps level the playing field for all legitimate businesses that honestly compete in the marketplace for foreign or domestic business.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation continues to expand its international efforts to aggressively investigate those individuals who engage in money laundering and bribery schemes,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Gonzalez. “Individuals involved in corrupt international endeavors, as uncovered in this case, will get caught and this sentencing should serve as a strong warning to those considering similar conduct.”
Duperval was the director of international relations for Haiti Teleco, the sole provider of land line telephone service in Haiti. According to the evidence presented at trial, two Miami-based telecommunications companies had a series of contracts with Haiti Teleco that allowed the companies’ customers to place telephone calls to Haiti.
Duperval was convicted for participating in a scheme to commit money laundering from 2003 to 2006, during which time the telecommunications companies collectively paid approximately $500,000 to two shell companies to funnel the bribes to Duperval.
The purpose of these bribes, according to the evidence presented at trial, was to obtain various business advantages from Duperval, including the issuance of preferred telecommunications rates, a continued telecommunications connection with Haiti and the continuation of a particularly favorable contract with Haiti Teleco. To conceal the bribe payments, Duperval instructed the companies to forward the payments to the shell companies. To support these payments, the companies and their executives created false documents claiming that the payments were for “consulting services” or for “international minutes from USA to Haiti.” No actual services were performed. The funds were then disbursed from the shell companies for the benefit of Duperval and his family. To conceal the nature of these funds, Duperval falsely characterized these payments as “commissions” and “payroll.”
Duperval was the seventh defendant involved in the corruption scheme to be sentenced, which includes the following individuals:
- On April 27, 2009, Antonio Perez, a former controller at one of the Miami-based telecommunications companies, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and money laundering. On Jan. 12, 2010, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
- On May 15, 2009, Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services, 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 telecommunications companies. On July 30, 2010, he was sentenced to 57 months in prison, which he is currently serving.
- On Feb. 19, 2010, Jean Fourcand, the president and director of Fourcand Enterprises Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering for receiving and transmitting bribe monies in the scheme. On May 5, 2010, he was sentenced to six months in prison, which he is currently serving.
- On March 12, 2010, Robert Antoine, a former director of international affairs for Haiti Teleco, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He admitted to receiving more than $1 million in bribes from Miami-based telecommunications companies. On June 2, 2010, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison, which he is currently serving.
- On Aug. 4, 2011, Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez, who were the former president and vice-president, respectively, of one of the telecommunications companies, were convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of money laundering conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering. On Oct. 25, 2011, Esquenazi was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the longest sentence ever imposed in a case involving the FCPA. On the same day, Rodriguez was sentenced to 84 months in prison for his role in the bribery scheme. Both are currently serving their sentences.
In a second superseding indictment, Washington Vasconez Cruz, Amadeus Richers and Cecilia Zurita were charged in a related scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from December 2001 through January 2006. The defendants are fugitives. An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.
To learn more about the government’s FCPA enforcement efforts, go to www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief James M. Koukios and Trial Attorney Daniel S. Kahn of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this matter. These cases were investigated by the IRS-CI Miami Field Office.