lundi 22 août 2016

Haitian Senate accuses former ministers of corruption

Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Haiti's Senate on Wednesday accused 15 former ministers and senior officials of corruption, nepotism and illegal procurement during their management of a public finance program.

The allegations concern Venezuela's Petrocaribe program, initiated by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to supply cheap oil to Haiti and other Caribbean and Central American countries. They have 25 years to pay their bills at an interest rate of 1 percent.

Haiti has spent 12 years in the program, under whose terms the impoverished Caribbean nation has received loans of more than 2 billion dollars for financing economic and social projects.

The Senate's ethics and anti-corruption committee investigated management of those funds because "there is a feeling among the population that the funds were poorly used at best and at worst, partly diverted to personally enrich certain executives with the responsibility to manage them," the committee said in a report.

Months of investigation led the committee to conclude that the management of Petrocaribe funds represents "a vast deception of the state," the report added.

The probe uncovered the illegal awarding of contracts, misuse of emergency laws and backdated contracts, the report said, which "confirmed suspicions of nepotism, malfeasance and corruption in the program's management."

The report's six pages of executive summary that were released provided no details about dates or amounts of money involved.

Two former prime ministers, Jean-Max Bellerive (November 2009 - May 2011) and Laurent Lamothe (May 2012 - December 2014) top the list of implicated officials.

The committee called on the judiciary to launch a further investigation into the actions of those ministers and private entrepreneurs suspected in the embezzlement of public funds.

Haiti has been plagued by decades of political and economic crisis. Transparency International ranked it 158th among 168 countries on its global corruption perception index in March.


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