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Retired U.S. Army colonel charged with FCPA conspiracy

A retired U.S. Army colonel was charged in a complaint unsealed today for his alleged role in a foreign bribery and money laundering scheme in connection with a planned $84 million port development project in Haiti.       

Joseph Baptiste, 64, of Fulton, Maryland was arrested Tuesday morning on a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Boston. 

He was charged with

He was charged with with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to launder money.

The complaint alleged that Baptiste solicited bribes from undercover FBI agents in Boston. They posed as potential investors in a port project in the Moles Saint Nicolas area of Haiti.

The project was expected to cost about $84 million.

Baptiste allegedly told the agents in a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel that he would funnel payments to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity based in Maryland that he controlled.

The non-profit was set up supposedly to help impoverished residents of Haiti, the DOJ said.

FBI agents intercepted telephone calls “pursuant to court authorization,” according to the complaint.

Baptiste allegedly discussed bribing an aide to a senior Haitian official by giving him a job on the port development project after he left his position.

The complaint alleged that Baptiste took $50,000 from the undercover agents that they wired to the non-profit.

Although Baptiste used that money for personal expenses, the DOJ said, “he intended to seek additional money from the undercover agents to use for future bribe payments in connection with the port project.”

Reuters said Baptiste gave a sworn declaration after federal agents approached him December 2015 and agreed to plead guilty.

“But the complaint said Baptiste recently indicated he did not plan to honor his plea agreement, according to the report.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, the DOJ said Tuesday. “The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.” 

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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