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Money-Laundering Plea In Haiti Telco Case

The Justice Department said today the head of a Florida-based company pleaded guilty to laundering money used to bribe former officials at Haiti's state-owned telecommunications company.

Jean Fourcand, 62, of Miami, was the president and director of Fourcand Enterprises Inc. He admitted receiving funds in 2001 and 2002 from U.S. phone companies for the benefit of employees of Telecommunications D’Haiti (Haiti Telco). The money came from an intermediary company, J.D. Locator Services Inc.

The president of J.D. Locator, Juan Diaz, 51, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to conspiracy to commit violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and money laundering. He paid and concealed $1,028,851 in bribes while acting as an intermediary for three private telecommunications companies.

Also in the case, Antonio Perez, 51, of Miami, the former controller of one of the U.S. telcos, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to bribe officials at Haiti Telco. Perez arranged bribes of $674,193 to the Haitian officials while he worked at the company from March 1998 to January 2002.

The money laundering charge against Fourcand -- engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity (18 U.S.C. 1957) -- carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved. Fourcand also agreed to forfeit $18,500, the amount of one of the checks he laundered.

Fourcand said in his plea that Robert Antoine, the former director of international relations at Haiti Telco, received the bribes. Antoine was indicted in December 2009 for conspiring to launder money. According to the DOJ, he was "arrested and expelled from Haiti" to face the U.S. charges.

Also charged in December 2009 were Joel Esquenazi, the former president, and Carlos Rodriguez, the former executive vice president of a U.S. telecommunications company. They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and 12 counts of money laundering.

Charges were also brought against Jean Rene Duperval, a former official at Haiti Telco, who's facing one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering, and Duperval’s sister, Marguerite Grandison. She's charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, seven substantive FCPA violations, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and 12 counts of money laundering.

As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In its release, the Justice Department said it received help gathering evidence from Haiti’s financial intelligence unit, the Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF), the Bureau des Affaires Financières et Economiques (BAFE)-- a specialized component of the Haitian National Police -- and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

View a copy of the DOJ's February 19, 2010 release here.

Download a copy of the criminal information in U.S. v. Fourcand here.

Download a copy of the plea agreement in U.S. v. Fourcand here.

Download a copy of the indictment in U.S. v. Equenazi et al here.

Reader Comments (2)

In today's world, bribery is the way business is done overseas. In the U.S. we frown upon it, but in China it is expected. Feel bad for our boys trying to compete with their arms tied behind their backs.
August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Think this story is just the tip of the iceberg
September 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstian

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