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Haiti Teleco – From Stunning To Strange

A post earlier this week (see here) highlighted the motion by Carlos Rodriguez and Joel Esquenazi for a judgment of acquittal or a new trial based on Jean Max Bellerive’s (Prime Minister of Haiti) July 26, 2011 signed statement that stated, among other things, that  “Teleco has never been and until now is not a state enterprise.”

In a strange turn of events, on August 25th, a day after the motion, the Prime Minister penned a declaration that was filed by the DOJ Tuesday in the case.  See here.  In the declaration, the Prime Minister said that he did not know his July 26th statement “was going to be used in criminal legal proceedings in the United States or that it was going to be used in support of the argument that […] Teleco was not part of the Public Administration of Haiti.”  Referring to his July 26th statement, the Prime Minister said “that document had been signed strictly for internal purposes and to be used in support of the on-going modernization process of Teleco.”

In the statement, the Prime Minister continues as follows.  “Even though the facts mentioned in the [July 26th statement] are truthful, now that I know the purpose for which they were used, I wish to explain how they might lead to confusion.”  Backtracking from his original statement, the Prime Minister says that his prior statement can be “confusing” because “it omits the fact that, after the initial creation of Teleco and prior to its modernization, it was fully funded and controlled by BRH [Bank of the Republic of Haiti], which is a public entity of the Haitian state.”

Among other things, the Prime Minister states as follows.  “… [T]he nomination of the Director General and of the Board members of Teleco has always been done by Decision of the President of the Republic and been countersigned by the Prime Minister and other ministers concerned.”  “Prior to the modernization process, Teleco’s income was to be used by BRH for public purposes.  Teleco’s debts were also borne by BRH.  Teleco does not pay taxes or import duties.  Teleco also benefits from a State monopoly authorized for land-line telephone services in Haiti.  Prior to its modernization, 97% of Teleco belonged to the Haitian State, which nevertheless controlled it in 100%.  These facts are all known to the public and to me.”

Does the Prime Minister of Haiti routinely monitor U.S. legal proceedings or was the origin of the Prime Minister’s August 25th declaration the result of government to government communications?  The Prime Minister’s declaration includes this final paragraph.  “Finally, the Government of Haiti has always supported and will continue to support the Government of the United States in its efforts to fight against corruption, especially in light of the fact that such actions violate Haitian laws.  Haiti has been the victim of such illegal actions that have resulted in loss of revenue for Haiti.”

If the Prime Minister’s original July 26th statement was meant “strictly for internal purposes” how did it surface in the Haiti Teleco FCPA proceedings?  As this document indicates, the DOJ’s cover letter of August 10th to defense counsel indicates that the DOJ received the statement “from Mr. Paul Calli in connection with the charges pending against Patrick Joseph.”  Calli (here) represents Joseph (a former general director for telecommunications at Haiti Teleco) who was criminally charged in July with conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the Haiti Teleco matter.  (See here for the prior post).

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