Former Haitian Government Official Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering in Foreign Bribery Scheme
A former official of the Republic of Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company pleaded guilty today to 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 Jeffrey H. Sloman 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.
"Today’s guilty plea represents another important milestone in our ongoing effort to tackle overseas corruption," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. "The message here is simple: Whether you are located in the United States or elsewhere, we will not allow U.S. financial institutions to be used as a vehicle for laundering illicit proceeds."
"Today’s conviction should be a warning to corrupt government officials everywhere that neither they nor their money will find any safe haven in the United States," said U. S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman.
"The IRS is committed to enforcing the anti-money laundering laws and will continue to work with our international partners to investigate violations worldwide," said Special Agent in Charge Daniel W. Auer. "Haitian law enforcement should be commended for their commitment and professionalism throughout this investigation."
According to the indictment filed on Dec. 4, 2009, Robert Antoine, 62, of Miami and Haiti, 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 admitted during his guilty plea 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.
Antoine admitted during his guilty plea 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.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Antoine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. Antoine also agreed to a forfeiture order of $1,580,771. Sentencing is scheduled for May 27, 2010.
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 (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 case was 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 case was investigated by the IRS-CI Miami Field Office.