As highlighted in this previous post, in 2017 (in connection with an undercover string) the DOJ unsealed criminal charges against Joseph Baptiste (a retired U.S. Army Colonel, practicing dentist, and founder / president of a Maryland-based Haitian focused non-profit) for alleged Haitian bribery.
As highlighted in this previous post, in 2018 the DOJ added criminal charges against Roger Boncy in connection with the same core conduct.
Unlike most individual FCPA defendants, Baptiste and Boncy put the DOJ to its burden of proof. As indicated in this recent DOJ release after a two-week jury trial, a federal jury in Boston found Baptiste guilty of one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and Boncy guilty of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act.
As stated in the release:
“According to evidence presented at trial, Boncy and Baptiste solicited bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as potential investors in connection with a proposed project to develop a port in the Mȏle St. Nicolas area of Haiti. The proposed project was expected to cost approximately $84 million and was to involve the construction of a cement factories in its first phase, with subsequent phases having a shipping-vessel recycling station, an international transshipment station with numerous slips for shipping vessels, a power plant, a petroleum depot and tourist facilities. During a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel, Boncy and Baptiste told the agents that, in order to secure Haitian government approval of the project, they would funnel the bribes to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity that Baptiste controlled, which was based in Maryland and purported to help impoverished residents of Haiti. In intercepted telephone calls played during trial, Boncy and Baptiste discussed bribing an aide to a high-level elected official in Haiti with a job on the port development project, in exchange for the aide’s help in obtaining the elected official’s authorization for the project. Boncy and Baptiste also told the undercover agents that they would hide the bribes through money falsely earmarked for social programs and that they would bribes officials at all levels of the Haitian government.”
In the release, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski stated:
“Richard Boncy and Joe Baptiste conspired to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Haitian officials to do business there. [The] guilty verdict sends a strong message that those who use corrupt means to obtain unfair and illegal business advantages will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by the Department of Justice.”
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of the District of Massachusetts stated:
“Bribery of public officials corrodes public trust and victimizes the public these officials are supposed to serve. We will continue to target Americans who try to bribe foreign public officials for business advantage.”
Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta of the FBI’s Boston Field Office stated:
“Mr. Baptiste and Mr. Boncy had no problem soliciting bribes to funnel to senior government officials in Haiti through blatantly illegal means. Every dirty dollar they were trying to secure undermines those who are trying to conduct business lawfully. Cases like this only fuel the FBI’s commitment to tackling corruption, and [the] guilty verdict ensures that both of them will be held accountable for their actions.”
As noted in the DOJ release, Boncy and Baptiste are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 12, 2019.