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25849: Seraphin: (reply and addition) Re: Fwd: MIAMI HERALD ARTICLE BY JACQUELIE CHARLES: CORRUPTION LINKS TO TELECO, TO TAIWAN (fwd)
From: Sonny Seraphin <email@example.com>
My dear friends,
I present my compliments to Mrs. Jacqueline Charles of
the Miami Herald for having been the first journalist
to raise the issue and the need to investigate the
corruption of Aristide, his government, his
Foundations, family and friends.
As a reminder, I am pleased to share with you this
article published in the Miami Herald probably on May
This article would put the necessary pressure on the
Alexandre-Latortue government to conduct an inquiry
which has just produced the fruits of the preliminary
report of "the Paul Denis commission".
This report is an important first step. More needs to
be done. The mandate of the commission must be
renewed. The haitian people must keep the pressure on
the Alexandre-Latortue government.
With my friendship,
MIAMI HERALD, MAY 21, 2004,
GOVERNMENT OF Haiti INVESTIGATING ALLEGED CORRUPTION
UNDER ARISTIDE RULE.
Haitian leaders said corruption probes of the
Aristide administration focus on nine cases,
including deals involving phone firms, Taiwanese aid
and a Miami lobbyist.
By JACQUELINE CHARLES
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Haiti's new government is
investigating nine allegations of corruption and
mismanagement by the Aristide administration, from
suspect long-distance telephone contracts to misuse
of government funds.
The government will also probe the Aristide
government's contract with Miami lawyer Ira Kurzban,
a lobbyist for Haiti, said Finance Minister Henri
Bazin and Central Bank chief Raymond Magloire.
''We will be looking into all the scandals and
misuse of government money . . . those things that
were illegal and violated procedure,'' Bazin told
The Herald. ``We're looking into corruption and
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue
recently tasked the Central Bank, government
ministries and agencies to look into the nine
allegations against officials and supporters of the
government of former President Jean-Bertrand
The allegations, mostly from Aristide
opponents and independent businessmen, emerged
during his rule but gained momentum after he
resigned Feb. 29 amid a bloody revolt.
Government and Central Bank officials admit it
will be an uphill struggle because of their lack of
experience in such investigations, the involvement
of private companies whose true owners are unknown,
and government ledgers so messy that it might be
impossible to trace who received money and why.
Bazin said the government may hire a foreign
forensic accounting firm such as Kroll Inc., hired
in the mid-1980s to track the Duvalier family
Latortue told The Herald that Washington and
European countries are also helping track down
foreign bank accounts that may be held by Aristide,
his wife Mildred, relatives and supporters. He
declined to elaborate.
U.S. prosecutors in Miami are investigating
Aristide's alleged links to drug traffickers and
reports that Aristide relatives hold about $250
million in European banks, federal sources told The
Herald last month.
Magloire said a preliminary review of Central
Bank accounts showed no looting of government funds
in the days leading up to Aristide's resignation.
But Magloire and Bazin said there are other
allegations to investigate.
One of the key investigations will focus on a
half-dozen small, U.S.-based long-distance telephone
companies that have suspect deals with Haiti's
The deals, which allegedly involved
commissions paid to Aristide government officials,
gave Teleco far less of the income from the foreign
calls than it should have received, Central Bank
It was a significant amount of money,
millions a month, not coming in,'' Magloire said.
But he acknowledged that proving corruption
will be difficult because Teleco's ledgers were so
badly kept that a credible financial audit is
Senior government officials said they will
also investigate complaints that Aristide persuaded
Taiwan, Haiti's largest aid donor, to divert some of
its aid from the government to two
Aristide-controlled private foundations that carry
out social welfare programs.
Three Haitians told The Herald that Taiwanese
Embassy officials in Port-au-Prince had acknowledged
to them that Aristide requested the diversion. They
asked for anonymity out of fear of reprisals.
Wang-Der Chi, charg?d'affaires at Taiwan's
embassy in Haiti, said his government never gave
money directly to the two foundations -- La Fanmi
Selavi and its successor, the Aristide Foundation.
Magloire also said an initial sweep of
government payments handled by the Central Bank
turned up strong indications of massive overbilling
and large commissions paid to Aristide supporters,
but he offered no details.
''When we make a more extensive investigation
we hope any blatant irregularities will show up,''
Also to be investigated are special franchises
issued to Aristide supporters to import rice free of
duty, and government funds paid to the Aristide
foundations and armed pro-Artistide thugs known as
Magloire said his investigators are also
looking into the Haitian government's contract with
Kurzban, an Aristide supporter registered in
Washington as a lobbyist for Haiti.
Magloire said that although the Aristide
government's contract with Kurzban required him to
represent the Central Bank and Teleco, ``he never
did any work for either. He was working for the
Kurzban, in fact, represented Teleco in a
dispute over telecommunications giant MCI's debt to
Teleco, said MCI attorney Robert Sink. He declined
to say how much MCI ended up paying Teleco.
It is completely untrue that I did not
represent all of the clients who I was retained to
represent. And, in fact, I did substantial work for
all of the clients,'' Kurzban told The Herald,
declining to elaborate, citing attorney-client
''The efforts of the puppet, U.S.-installed
government in Haiti to denigrate President
Aristide's name by making false and scandalous
accusations will ultimately be found to be untrue,''
NO WITCH HUNTS
Justice Minister Bernard Gousse said he wants
the nine investigations to move legally and with
caution to avoid charges by Aristide supporters that
the interim government is engaging in a politically
inspired witch hunt.
''We don't want to move on political
motivation,'' Gousse said.
But Bazin, the finance minister, said that
it's high time to clean up Haiti's corruption. He
cited a report last year by European-based
Transparency International that ranked Haiti as one
of the world's most corrupt countries.
Bazin said he also plans to establish an
anti-corruption commission to investigate future
allegations and prosecute those involved.
''Something has to be remedied. We cannot go
on like that,'' he said. 'It is bad for the moral
fabric of our society . . . It's taxpayers' money
that is being looted. We want to make sure no such
things happen again.''