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Four-Year Sentence In Haiti Case

A former employee of Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company was sentenced yesterday to 48 months in prison for being part of a bribery and money-laundering scheme.

Robert Antoine, 62, of Miami and Haiti, pleaded guilty in March this year to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was also ordered by the federal judge in Miami to pay $1,852,209 in restitution and to forfeit $1,580,771, and serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.

Antoine was indicted in December 2009. From 2001 to 2003, he was the director of international affairs for Telecommunications D’Haiti. He admitted accepting bribes from three U.S. telco companies. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act reaches bribe payers but not bribe takers. Antoine, however, disguised the origin of the bribes by passing them through intermediary companies in the U.S., including J.D. Locator Services. Disguising the origin of funds in U.S. commerce constitutes an offense under the anti-money laundering law 18 U.S.C. §1956.

Juan Diaz, 51, the president of J.D. Locator, pleaded guilty in May 2009, to conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA and money laundering. He hasn’t been sentenced.

Antoine also said some of the bribe money was laundered by Jean Fourcand, who pleaded guilty in February this year to money laundering. He named Antoine in his guilty plea. Fourcand, 62, was earlier sentenced to six months in prison for his involvement.

Antoine said $800,000 of the funds he received were intended to be from a U.S. telco company of which Joel Esquenazi was the president and director, Carlos Rodriguez was the executive vice president, and Antonio Perez was, at times, the controller. Perez, 51, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to conspiring to commit FCPA violations and money laundering. He’s also waiting to be sentenced.

Esquenazi and Rodriguez, as well as Jean Rene Duperval, who was director of international relations of Telecommunications D’Haiti from 2003 to 2004, and Duperval’s sister, Marguerite Grandison, were indicted with Antoine in December 2009. Their trial is scheduled to begin July 19, 2010 in U.S. District Court in Miami.

As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Download a copy of the December 4, 2009 indictment in United States v. Joel Esquenazi, et al here.

Download a copy of Robert Antoine’s February 19, 2010 plea agreement (entered March 12, 2010) here.

Download a copy of Antoine’s factual statement in connection with his guilty plea here.

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