Two Florida Businessmen Plead Guilty to Participating in a Conspiracy to Bribe Foreign Government Officials and Money Laundering
The president of a Miami-Dade County, Fla.,-based intermediary and the former controller of a Miami-Dade County-based telecommunications company both have pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in a conspiracy to pay and conceal more than $1 million in bribes to former Haitian government officials.
Juan Diaz51, of Miami, pleaded guilty today in Miami before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to a foreign government official for the purpose of securing business advantages for three different Miami-Dade County telecommunications companies from the Republic of Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company, Telecommunications D’Haiti, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and money laundering laws. According to plea documents, Diaz paid and concealed $1,028,851 in bribes to former Haitian government officials while serving as an intermediary for the three private telecommunications companies during the entire conspiracy.
Antonio Perez, 51, of Miami, pleaded guilty before Judge Martinez on April 27, 2009, to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to making corrupt payments for one of the three Miami-Dade County telecommunications companies to Telecommunications D’Haiti in violation of the FCPA and money laundering laws. Perez was the controller of the telecommunications company from March 1998 through approximately January 2002. According to the plea documents, approximately $674,193 in bribes from Perez’s employer was paid to former Haitian government officials throughout the course of the conspiracy, which continued into 2003.
According to court documents, the Miami-Dade County telecommunications companies executed a series of contracts with Telecommunications D’Haiti that allowed the companies’ customers to place telephone calls to Haiti. Diaz and Perez admitted they conspired with the companies to make "side payments" through a shell company belonging to Diaz to the then-Director of International Relations for Telecommunications D’Haiti and the then-Director General of Telecommunications D’Haiti. In exchange for these payments, the foreign government officials are alleged to have conferred a variety of business advantages upon the Miami-Dade County telecommunication companies, including issuing preferred telecommunications rates, reducing the number of minutes for which payment was owed, and giving a variety of credits toward owed sums.
In connection with his guilty plea, Diaz admitted that from November 2001 through October 2003, he and his co-conspirators used the shell company for the sole purpose of accepting bribes and then laundering those bribes to then-Haitian government officials. Diaz admitted that he did not ever provide or intend to provide any legal goods or services from the shell company to anyone. Diaz admitted he kept $73,824 as commissions for laundering the bribes.
In connection with his guilty plea, Perez admitted that from November 2001 through January 2002, on behalf of his employer, he offered to pay and assisted with the processing of "side payments" to the then-Director of International Relations for Telecommunications D’Haiti. Perez admitted that he assisted in paying $36,375 worth of "side payments" during this period. Perez also admitted that he helped conceal the payments through the use of Diaz’s shell company and by recording the payments as "consulting services."
At sentencing, Diaz and Perez each face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain. The government’s investigation is ongoing.
The Department of Justice expresses gratitude 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 cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Trial Attorney Nicola J. Mrazek of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Kevin Gerrity of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. 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.