Above: the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Former Haiti Teleco official Jean Rene Duperval has been sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in a scheme to launder bribes, according to US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer.
Duperval, the former director for Haiti’s state-owned Telecommunications D’Haiti SAM, was convicted in March for his role in the scheme on two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 19 counts of money laundering.
He has been in custody since his conviction.
“Duperval’s money laundering scheme was an attempt to conceal the payment of bribes to foreign officials to obtain an unfair business advantage in the marketplace,” Ferrer said. “Yesterday’s sentence, however, helps level the playing field for all legitimate businesses that honestly compete in the marketplace for foreign or domestic business.”
As part of the sentence, Duperval has been ordered to pay $497,331 in restitution.
“Mr Duperval took bribes in exchange for giving companies an unfair and illegal advantage in the marketplace, and then tried to hide these illicit transactions behind the cloak of shell corporations and fake invoices,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Yesterday’s nine-year prison sentence sends a strong message to foreign officials and others who would facilitate foreign corruption that they will face serious consequences.”
Haiti Teleco is the sole provider of land line telephone service in Haiti. Last year, a Vietnamese company purchased a majority stake in the company. Haiti’s government owns the remaining shares.
According to the evidence presented at trial, two Miami-based telecom companies had a series of contracts with Haiti Teleco that allowed the companies’ customers to place calls to Haiti.
Duperval was convicted for participating in a scheme to commit money laundering in a three-year period from 2003 to 2006.
During that time, the two companies collectively paid approximately $500,000 to two shell companies to funnel the bribes to Duperval.