Former telecoms executive implicated in Haiti bribery scheme sentenced
MIAMI, United States, Friday October 28, 2011 - A former telecoms executive has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a scheme to bribe Haitian government officials at the state-owned telecommunications company, Haiti Teleco.
The US State Department said the sentence handed down against Joel Esquenaz, 52, the former president of Terra Telecommunications Corp, is the longest ever imposed in a case involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
“This sentence – the longest sentence ever imposed in an FCPA case – is a stark reminder to executives that bribing government officials to secure business advantages is a serious crime with serious consequences,” Assistant Attorney General Breuer said.
Former Executive Vice President of Terra, Carlos Rodriguez, 55, was also sentenced to 84 months in prison for his role in the bribery scheme.
In addition, Florida District Judge Jose E. Martinez ordered the two to forfeit US$3.09 million.
Esquenazi and Rodriguez were convicted in August 2011 of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and 12 counts of money laundering.
According to evidence presented at trial, the two participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from November 2001 through March 2005, during which time the telecommunications company paid more than US$890,000 to shell companies to be used to bribe Teleco officials.
Prosecutors said Esquenazi and Rodriguez authorized the payments to successive directors of international relations at Teleco to obtain various business advantages including the issuance of preferred telecommunications rates, reductions in the number of minutes for which payment was owed, and the continuance of Terra’s telecommunications connection with Haiti.
Four other individuals were previously convicted and sentenced for their roles in the bribery scheme.