U.S. Citizens Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Bribe Haitian Officials

22 May 2009 Publication

In May 2009, the Department of Justice ("DOJ") announced that Juan Diaz and Antonio Perez (both U.S. citizens) pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA's antibribery provisions and money laundering laws for their roles in an improper payment scheme involving employees of Telecommunications D'Haiti ("Haiti Teleco"). According to the information, Haiti Teleco is Haiti's state-owned national telecommunications company and its employees, including Official A (the Director of International Relations responsible for negotiating contracts) and Official B (the General Director), are "foreign officials" under the FCPA.

The information charges that, during the relevant time period (2001-2003), Haiti Teleco was the only provider of local telephone service in Haiti, and that various international telecommunications companies contracted with Haiti Teleco to allow those companies' customers to make calls to Haiti in exchange for a set rate for each minute. According to the information, Company 1 (a U.S. telecommunications company headquartered in Miami, Florida), Company 2 (a U.S. telecommunications company with its principal place of business in Miami), and Company 3 (a U.S. subsidiary of Company 2 with its principal place of business in Miami) all entered into a series of contracts with Haiti Teleco that allowed their respective customers to call Haiti.

As detailed in the information, Diaz's business (JD Locator), served as an intermediary for Companies 1, 2 and 3 in their business dealings with Haiti Teleco. Diaz knowingly conspired and agreed with Co-conspirators A (the President and Director of Company 1), B (the Executive Vice President of Company 1) and C (the Vice President of both Companies 2 and 3) to corruptly make payments to Officials A and B to assist Companies 1, 2, and 3 in obtaining and retaining business with Haiti Teleco. The information charges that Diaz used JD Locator's U.S. bank account to: (i) wire funds to Official A's bank account, (ii) issue checks payable to Official A, (iii) withdraw cash that was given to Official A, and (iv) send funds to Official A and B's family members. As a result of these improper payments, the information charges that Companies 1, 2, and 3 secured preferred rates from Haiti Teleco and otherwise reduced payments owed to Haiti Teleco.

As charged in the information, Perez (Company 1's Controller), knowingly conspired and agreed with Co-conspirators A and B and Diaz to corruptly make payments to Official A to help Company 1 obtain and retain business with Haiti Teleco. The information charges that Perez, with Co-conspirator A's authorization, offered "side payments" to Official A, which Official A accepted to reduce Company 1's debt to Haiti Teleco and to prevent Official A from terminating Company 1's telecommunication connection. According to the information, Perez, to disguise the true nature of the payments made to Official A through JD Locator, issued checks for fictional "consulting services" to JD Locator and otherwise caused Company 1 to falsely record payments to JD Locator as "commissions" on its books and records.

In pleading guilty, both Diaz and Perez face a maximum of five years in prison and a criminal fine. In addition, both Diaz and Perez agreed to forfeit to the U.S. money traceable to their crimes (Diaz approximately $1 million, Perez approximately $37,000).