As highlighted here, in August 2017 (in connection with an undercover sting) the DOJ announced criminal charges against Joseph Baptiste (a retired U.S. Army Colonel, practicing dentist, and former founder/president of a Maryland-based Haitian focused non-profit) “for his alleged role in a foreign bribery and money laundering scheme in connection with a planned $84 million port development project in Haiti” in an area known as Mole Saint Nicolas.
With Baptiste’s trial set to begin in early December, the DOJ returned to the same alleged core conduct by announcing additional criminal charges against Roger Boncy (pictured – 74, a dual U.S. and Haitian citizen who resides in Madrid, Spain).
In this supeseding indictment, Boncy is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act, one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The superseding indictment also charges Joseph Baptiste with the same crimes.
According to the indictment:
“In or about and between November 2014 and December 2015 … Baptiste and Boncy conspired with one another, and with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to bribe foreign officials to obtain and to retain business in connection with the Port Project [involving the commercial development of an area in Haiti known as Mole Saint Nicolas].
As part of the conspiracy, Baptiste, Boncy, and others … solicited bribe money from two undercover agents of the Federal Bureau Investigation (“FBI”) posing as prospective investors in the Port Project (“UC-1” and “UC-2”; jointly the “UCs”), which was expected to cost approximately $84 million and was to involve the construction of a cement factory in its first phase. Baptiste told the UCs that, in order to secure government approval of the project, he would bribe Haitian officials. In order to conceal the bribe payments, Baptiste told the UCs that he would funnel the payments through Non-Profit [a purported non-profit with the state mission of helping the improverished in Haiti].
At Baptiste’s direction, UC-2 wired $50,000 to Non-Profit’s bank account as part of the bribery scheme. Baptiste used the initial $50,000 for his personal expenses and planned to use future payments from UC-2 to make bribe payments to Haitian government officials in connection with the Port Project.”
According to the indictment, the bribes were for Foreign Official 1 (described as a high-level elected official in the Haitian government), Aide 1 (described as an aide to Foreign Official 1 and a trained engineer), Aide 2 (described as an aide to Foreign Official 1) and Lawyer 1 (described as a lawyer who worked within Foreign Official 1’s office). Among other things, the indictment alleges that the defendants offered a job to Aide 1 “in exchange for help in obtaining a letter from Foreign Official 1 indicating government support for the Port Project.”
In this article, Boncy’s lawyer Jed Dwyer (Greenberg Traurig) stated:
“This case should never have been charged. Mr. Boncy never paid any bribes. This is no conspiracy.
“What happened here was that the FBI got out-hustled — and ended up losing,” $50,000. What didn’t happen was some kind of bribery scheme.”
Dwyer said his client never knew that Baptiste “had asked for money from the FBI to pay bribes.”
“Mr. Boncy never asked for a dime to pay bribes. Mr. Boncy never received a dime to pay bribes. Mr. Boncy never gave any money to anyone else to pay bribes.”
FCPA Institute - Minneapolis (June 20-21, 2019)
A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available.