PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – Three weeks before Jovenel Moïse is to take the oath of office to become the 58th President of Haiti and just days after the arrest and extradition of political ally Senator-elect Guy Philippe, the nation’s anti-financial crimes institution’s report against the president-elect for suspected money-laundering was forwarded by the chief prosecutor of Port-au-Prince to the criminal court for further instruction.
The Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF) produced a report in the Summer of 2016 finding an estimated $5 million [USD] had passed through bank accounts in the name of Mr. Moïse but through sources and transactions unclear. The report led many to speculate that then-candidate Jovenel Moïse had engaged in money laundering dating back to the late 90s.
Last week, Government Commissioner of Port-au-Prince Jean Danton Leger told the press that the allegations had some merit and that the case deserved further investigation as a criminal matter. Mr. Leger has zealously, with controversy, sought to bring financial malfeasance charges against members of the former Martelly regime and party, Haitian Tet Kale Party (PHTK) since assuming office in the Spring of 2016.
“It is possible that Mr. Jovenel Moïse has manipulated funds that have nothing to do with his businesses… I received the report and felt that further investigation was needed. If I am not mistaken, the case was handed over to Judge Jean-Wilner Morin,” said the District Attorney Mr. Leger, speaking to Le Nouvelliste on Monday, January 9, 2017.
The government commissioner stressed that justice would have the blindfold on in the case and said the prosecution rejects accusations of political persecution. The newspaper reported that the case was no longer on the docket of Judge Morin, but placed in the care Judge Breddy Fabien.
Responses from PHTK
The response from the Haitian Tet Kale Party (PHTK) has been acidic to the UCREF report and the evolution of the case into a criminal matter. Reynald Lubérice, political advisor to PHTK and Jovenel Moïse said “there are too many vagrants in this country.”
And off the record, another close to the president-elect, interviewed by Le Nouvelliste, said it was up to the bank to express itself, to say that UCREF manipulated the financial date it had received making the 5 million HTG ($80,000 USD by today’s 63:1 exchange rate) to $5 million USD, in order to harm Jovenel Moïse. “They bothered [former President] Martelly with a passport affair and now it’s a matter of money laundering for Jovenel,” he said.
“Jovenel Moïse and his companies have nothing to do with these stories of money laundering,” said Jovenel Moïse, back in October, equating the UCREF report as a purely politically-motivated file on which he does not want to venture to far into. He was forced to answer questions regarding the matter after appearing arm-in-arm with Senatorial candidate, Guy Philippe, who was wanted for drug-trafficking and money-laundering by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
“I was not contacted. No one in my entourage was contacted either,” said the president-elect in an exclusive interview granted to Radio France Internationale’s foreign correspondent in Haiti, Amelie Baron. In this October 2016 interview, he added that he was prepared to follow up on the UCREF report.
Since the interview, Guy Philippe, who had won his election for Senator of the Grand’Anse, had since been arrested and extradited in spectacular fashion on January 5, 2017. This was just a weekend before the UCREF report had resurfaced in criminal court.