PORT-AU-PRINCE, Ouest, HT (sentinel.ht) – After a 5-month, multi-million dollar investigation, Youri Latortue, “the poster boy for political corruption in Haiti” , submitted a report on the management of the Petrocaribe fund.
Despite some reports with contributions from long-time Haiti insiders, the investigation has so far been scarce on facts and between inconsequential and detrimental to the cause of justice in this matter. In itself, Latortue’s Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee appears to have been an act of public waste and corruption for political ends.
In March 2016, days after Youri Latortue’s bid for Senate President failed because his colleagues believed too many questions surrounded his legitimacy and that a cloud of ultra-corruption hovered over him, the Senate established a special committee for him to lead. It was, ironically, the “Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee”.
Aside from the prima facie irony that Latortue would head such a committee was the redundancy of it. The Haitian State has as one of its only fully-functioning and somewhat credible institutions, the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes (CSC/CA), which is apolitical and handles matters of ethics and corruption.
Concerning observers was the fact that the committee would be investigating the management of the Petrocaribe fund during the prior administration of former President Michel Martelly (2011-2016). Youri Latortue, for the majority of Martelly’s term, served as the president’s top and most influential adviser. Not once during that time did he ever speak out on possible mismanagement of the high-profile Petrocaribe fund.
Throughout the 5-month investigation the commission subpoenaed a number of former officials of the Haitian Executive. Officials who were out of the country flew in to hearings that were high in publicity, with nearly every news camera and microphone present, but low in substantial findings.
At least two of the officials interviewed by the commission confided with The Sentinel that they were subjected to blackmail and extortion by Latortue and another committee member, Senator Murat Cantave, his cousin. These claims have not yet been substantiated and questions we sent to the Senate and its committee have gone unanswered.
Furthermore, information still developing suggests that the Senate committee’s report was not actually made by the Senate but by members of some of Haiti’s wealthiest families. If found to be true, the integrity of the investigation and the effort to find just due for the Haitian people may be compromised. The legal and political ramifications can be catastrophic.