The squandering of the PetroCaribe Fund

Is Michel Martelly looking for accomplices ?

he results of the inquiry conducted by Senator Evalière Beauplan’s Senate Special Committee, after that led by the former president of the Senate, Senator Youri Latortue, have triggered a lively debate that will likely continue for a long time. The findings, we should note, point fingers at more than a dozen former senior officials of past and present governments, including two former Prime Ministers. In the brouhaha of this mega conspiracy against the public treasury, ex-President Michel Martelly confessed to having taken his share of the booty. He even boasted about investing some of it in hotels that he clearly
identified: Marriott and Best Western. More than a month has elapsed since he publicly made the statement, yet there hasn’t been any public rebuttal from those two North American companies, which settled in Haiti after the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

By saying that he invested in the two American hotels, former President Martelly admits to embezzle- ment. Meanwhile, those who worked for him are categorically denying any wrongdoing. That pits Mr. Martelly against two former Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Directors General and others fingered in the reports of the Senate’s special commissions about the heist of the PetroCaribe Fund. Thus, those who are fighting tooth and nail to permanently postpone their appearance in court have resorted to a lost cause. Fortunately, almost all sectors of Haitian society are united in denouncing the criminals involved in the vast conspiracy against the country. The people demand that the guilty be prosecuted, that the billions of dollars stolen be reimbursed, and that they be jailed as punishment.

Admitting his participation in the vast theft, Mr. Martelly seems to be proud about belonging to the team of shameless robbers. Without any embarrassment, he declared that “there was robbery” of the PetroCaribe Fund. Having been a central figure in this shameful operation, Mr. Martelly’s revelations are worth their weight in gold. Certainly, the judicial authorities entrusted to deal with the case must take his public confession into account. After all, who could pretend to know more about this scandal than Michel Martelly ? In that light, the likes of Laurent Salvador Lamothe, Jean-Max Bellerive and others targeted in the Senate reports have only to refer to the words of the former president to convince themselves that theft did indeed take place. By admitting his crime, Martelly also implicates his accomplices. And when the former government officialstry by all means to clear their names, that appears as if they would let Martelly carry the burden of the crime alone.

In any case, by his own statements, former President Michel Martelly has blown open the cover of the whole affair which has been the subject of much chatter and many published commentaries. Those who
derogatorily criticize the reports of the two special Senate commissions are wasting their time. On top of
everything, the majority of Haitians won’t lose their grip on this affair. The whole country is about bent on
settling score, restitution of stolen funds and imprisonment of the offenders. Notwithstanding the efforts of the eulogists, hired journalists, and other mercenaries of the pen who favorably paint the former public officials ! Accused as they are, they must face the music in a public trial.

Michel Martelly’s confession draws attention to another situation : the use made of the stolen millions of
the PetroCaribe Fund. By saying that he invested his loot in Best Western and Marriott, the former bald-headed president has identified some of his comrades-in-crime. Nearly two months after Martelly’s revelations, the companies mentioned have failed to publish rebuttals. As the proverb goes, “silence means consent.“ In the process, the evidence is piling up regarding the squanderers of the PetroCaribe Fund.

Admittedly, Michel Martelly said “there was theft” of millions of the account fueled by Venezuelan
petroleum products. Then he added that he invested his share of the loot in Best Western and Marriott. Meanwhile, the officials of the hotels don’t contest him. So doing, they agree that they had indeed received investment money from Mr. Martelly. What better proof is needed that a crime was perpetrated in the PetroCaribe Fund. There’s another consideration to be made in the case. By accepting Michel Martelly’s investment, the owners of the two hotels are complicit in the illicit activities of the former president. In other words, they are involved in a transnational money laundering case.

Whether the investor in this case was the President of the Republic of Haiti, that doesn‘t absolve him of such an offense. Consequently, American law should be applied to shed light on the relation existing between Martelly and the two American-owned hotels. Officials of Best Western and Marriott must answer some questions. In accord with established protocol, was there proper vetting of the investor to find out the origin of his money ? As is known, Haiti’s public administration is deeply involved in corruption, illicit trafficking and money laundering. It’s important to note that banks in Florida had seized Martelly’s two homes for defaulting on his mortgages. So, where did he get the millions to invest in the American hotels ?
It is unclear as to why the former Haitian president mentioned publicly his investments in those
hotels. In doing so, however, he has exposed some of his accomplices in the squandering of the PetroCaribe Fund.

la version intégrale de l’article de l’édition du 28 février 2018 de l’hebdomadaire Haïti Observateur se trouve en P. 11, à  cette adresse :