Lending reports

Corruption Reports Reveal Vast Disorder and Waste in Haiti

Fake government jobs and contracts, political patronage, embezzlement, and university employees and civil servants who use government bank accounts as personal checkbooks.

These are just some of the outrageous findings released this weekend by Haiti’s Anti-Corruption Unit following investigations of 10 various institutions and public agencies which include the municipalities of Petit Goâve, Fort-Liberté, Saint-Raphaël and Anse Rouge; the national lottery; National Police of Haiti and the School of Law and Economics of Gonaïves.

Overall, the conclusion was the same: Haitian public administration is a cesspool of corruption in which the actions of officials and elected officials go unchecked and they do what they want regardless of the consequences. The cost has been the loss of millions of dollars from state coffers in a country stricken with poverty, lagging behind in development and unable to cope with worsening inequality in the face of multiple crises.

“There is vast disorder and waste,” Hans Jacques Ludwig Joseph, the head of the anti-corruption unit, told the Miami Herald after the 25-page report was released. “It is a public administration totally weakened because of this phenomenon called corruption, which is multidimensional and has eminent personalities among its actors.”

The report cites a number of well-known figures – the city’s mayors, the head of the National Lottery, a current board member of the Central Bank, the government’s regulatory agency, and the former head of the National Police of Haiti. Findings range from abuse of power and mismanagement leading to loss of government revenue to more serious acts of embezzlement of state funds and assets.

The allegations in the reports date back to the government of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who took office in 2017 and was killed on July 7, 2021. The reports were released this week, Joseph said, because the investigations came from end. His investigators have dozens of other allegations they are pursuing about corruption in public administration across the country that they hope to release soon, he added.

“The system that has been put in place to check, control, anticipate these kinds of actions that public employees and state representatives do, they are not effective enough,” Joseph said, adding that the next step is for the judicial system of the country. do its job. “I always say that corruption has a name. This is called impunity. If you don’t have an effective justice system that has the political will to prosecute individuals, try and punish those who need to be, then it’s hard to get the results you want… Now, the justice system must take the wheel; if not, we will produce reports without obtaining results. »

In some cases, Joseph seeks criminal prosecution for influence peddling, embezzlement of public funds and other acts of corruption. In others, like the one involving former Haitian National Police chief Léon Charles, who was replaced late last year, Joseph calls for an investigation by government auditors, the Superior Court accounts and administrative litigation.

Charles, who currently serves with the Organization of American States, is accused of “mismanagement” after failing to inform human resources officials and others within the Haitian National Police of officers and civilian employees who had retired, or had been terminated or terminated, who were no longer eligible for an allowance increase on their debit cards.

“This slowness caused, for the period from December 2020 to February 2021, a shortfall of approximately eighteen million two hundred and forty thousand” gourdes, the report indicates, or approximately 144,080 dollars at current exchange rates.

The discoveries about Charles are among the less obvious. More serious charges related to Industrial Development Fund loans granted on the basis of political patronage and which were not repaid. Joseph recommends criminal action against Edgar Jeudy, a current Central Bank board member, for abuse of power and obstruction of justice in an investigation involving the fund.

Among other allegations in the conclusions:

The mayor of Petit Goâve, Limongy Samson, housed the town hall of the commune in his mother’s house. He is accused of using public funds to make improvements and his mother is accused of not paying property taxes.

In Fort-Liberté, in northeastern Haiti, authorities discovered that “various acts of corruption”, including embezzlement, were perpetrated “from start to finish” in the context of a project electrification of the city of Dumas. Misappropriation of funds was noted by the investigators and the laws on public contracts were not respected either by the officials of the city or by the representatives of the contracting company.

In Saint-Raphael, investigators discovered that funds had been granted for a football stadium that had never been built and that contractors were using addresses that did not exist.

There was a shortfall of more than $2.1 million in the National Lottery that should have gone to the public purse. The anti-corruption unit recommends public action against the head of the lottery, Marie Margareth Fortune Daudier, for embezzlement of public property and abuse of office, and Jean Moïse Fortune for complicity in the embezzlement of public property.

If there is one case that shows the extent to which civil servants consider themselves fiefdoms, it is the Faculty of Law in Gonaïves. The investigators say they have noted “a situation of anarchy, generalized disorder and almost total opacity in the mode of operation” of the school both academically and administratively and financially.

The former school president, Luc Benoît Pierre, told investigators that 25% of the 3,000 students were accepted without proof that they had even graduated from high school. Investigators discovered that despite Pierre’s multiple efforts to take corrective action, a group of employees bypassed him and succeeded “due to the opposition and bad faith of [law school] civil servants who take pleasure in this chaotic situation which characterizes the functioning of [the law school] today.”

Two employees, Roland Paphius and Cheddlie Cherenfant, are accused of embezzling $67,396 by issuing checks to employees for “fictitious services that have nothing to do with the assignments of their respective posts.

When Pierre learned what was happening and tried to To put an end to the administrative mismanagement by blocking access to the bank accounts of law school officials, the culprits opened a new account, allegedly with the help of the vice-dean.

Jacqueline Charles has reported on Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for over a decade. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she received the 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.