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Guilty Plea By Former Haitian Telco Official

A former Haitian phone company official at the center of a major Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution pleaded guilty Friday to a money-laundering conspiracy. 

The Justice Department said Robert Antoine, 62, of Miami and Haiti, the director of international affairs for state-owned Telecommunications D’Haiti from May 2001 to April 2003, accepted bribes from three U.S. telecommunications companies. To disguise the bribes, Antoine laundered them through intermediary companies, including J.D. Locator Services. 

Antoine was indicted on money-laundering charges in December 2009. Bribe takers cannot be prosecuted under the FCPA.

Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. He admitted he paid and concealed $1,028,851 in bribes while acting as an intermediary for three private telecommunications companies.

Antoine said in his plea that a portion of the J.D. Locator funds were also laundered by Jean Fourcand of Fourcand Enterprises, who pleaded guilty last month to money laundering.

Antonio Perez, 51, of Miami, the former controller of one of the U.S. telcos, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to bribe officials at Telecommunications D’Haiti. Perez arranged bribes of $674,193 to the Haitian officials while he worked at the company from March 1998 to January 2002.

Diaz and Perez are waiting to be sentenced.

Antoine said during his guilty plea that $800,000 was given to him by a U.S. telecommunications company of which Joel Esquenazi was the president and director, Carlos Rodriguez was the executive vice president, and Antonio Perez was the controller.

Esquenazi and Rodriguez, as well as Jean Rene Duperval, who was director of international relations of Telecommunications D’Haiti from June 2003 to April 2004, and Duperval’s sister, Marguerite Grandison, were indicted along with Antoine in December 2009. (As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)

Following his guilty plea, Antoine faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. He already agreed to a forfeiture order of $1,580,771. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on May 27, 2010.

Download a copy of the indictment in US v. Esquenazi et al here.

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