Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez were convicted on all counts yesterday for bribing officials at state-owned Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (Haiti Telco).
The jury reached its verdict after five hours of deliberations following a two-and-a-half-week trial.
Esquenazi, 52, of Miami, and Rodriguez, 55, of Davie, Florida, were convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and wire fraud, seven substantive FCPA counts, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and 12 counts of money laundering.
Esquenazi was the president and Rodriguez was the executive vice president of Miami-based Terra Telecommunications Corp.
The DOJ said they used shell companies to pay $890,00 in bribes from 2001 through 2005 to “successive directors of international relations” at Haiti Telco.
Esquenazi is now in federal custody. Rodriguez is free on bond. Sentencing for both is scheduled for October 13.
They face up to five years in prison on each of the FCPA-related and wire fraud counts. The conspiracy and substantive money laundering counts carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The government included a forfeiture count that the trial court will rule on later.
In 2009, Antonio Perez, a former controller at Terra, and Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. Last year Perez was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Diaz to 57 months. Both are now serving their jail terms.
In February last year, Jean Fourcand, the president and director of Fourcand Enterprises Inc., pleaded guilty in the case to one count of money laundering for receiving and transmitting bribes. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
Also last year, Robert Antoine, a former director of international affairs for Haiti Telco, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He admitted taking more than $1 million in bribes from Miami-based telecommunications companies. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison, which he’s now serving.
Other defendants indicted in the case are Washington Vasconez Cruz, Amadeus Richers, Cinergy Telecommunications Inc., Patrick Joseph, Jean Rene Duperval, and Marguerite Grandison. They’re charged in a related scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from 2001 through 2006. Their trial date hasn’t been set.
As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The DOJ’s August 5, 2011 press release is here.
United States v. Joel Esquenazi, et al, court docket number: 09-CR-21010-JEM, was filed on December 4, 2009 in the Southern District of Florida.
Download the indictment here.