Former Haitian Government Official Convicted in Miami for Role in Scheme to Launder Bribes Paid by Telecommunications Companies
Laundered Funds Were Proceeds of Violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
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, has been convicted by a federal jury on all counts for his role in a scheme to launder bribes paid to him by two Miami-based telecommunications companies. The jury reached its verdict late yesterday after less than three hours of deliberations, following a week-long trial.
The conviction was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida; and Special Agent in Charge Jose A. Gonzalez of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office.
“Mr. Duperval was convicted by a Miami jury of laundering $500,000 paid to him as part of an elaborate bribery scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “As the director of international relations for Haiti’s state-owned telecommunications company, Duperval doled out business in exchange for bribes and then used South Florida shell companies to conceal his crimes. This Justice Department is committed to stamping out corruption wherever we find it.”
“To conceal the payment and receipt of bribes, Duperval participated in a money laundering scheme to funnel about half a million dollars to two shell companies under his control,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “This verdict confirms that American taxpayers will not tolerate bribery, either at home or abroad, to obtain unfair business advantages.”
“Today’s announcement sends a strong message to those hiding monies in bogus business entities: no matter how elaborate or complex the scheme, you will get caught,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Gonzalez. “IRS criminal investigators will continue to aggressively investigate bribery schemes to ensure that honest businesses have the benefit of a competitive market.”
Duperval, 45, of Miramar, Fla., was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 19 counts of money laundering. According to the charges, the funds that were laundered were the proceeds of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Haitian bribery law and the wire fraud statute.
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 $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 remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals. Sentencing is scheduled for May 21, 2012. 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 seeks forfeiture, which will be determined by the court at a later date.
Duperval was the eighth defendant involved in the corruption scheme to be convicted, 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 FCPA and money laundering. On Jan. 12, 2010, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison, which he is currently serving.
- 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.
- 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 Senior Trial Attorney 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.