Miami Jury Convicts Two Telecom Execs in Haiti Telecom Bribery Case

04 August 2011 Publication
On August 4, 2011, a federal jury in the Southern District of Florida convicted Joel Esquenazi, former president of Terra Telecommunications Corp. (“Terra”), and Carlos Rodriguez, former executive vice president of Terra, of all charged counts: one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and the wire fraud statute; seven substantive FCPA counts; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and 12 substantive money laundering counts.

According to the Department of Justice’s release and the indictment, Esquenazi and Rodriguez where involved in a scheme that used shell companies to pay $890,000 in bribes from 2001 through 2005 to Haitian government officials at Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (“Haiti Telco”), a state-owned telecommunications company. Terra, based in Miami, Florida, had a series of contracts with Haiti Telco that allowed the company’s customers to place telephone calls to Haiti. The illegal payments, which were authorized by Esquenazi and Rodriguez, were used to gain 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. In addition to using shell companies to conceal the illegal payments, Esquenazi and Rodriguez also created false records claiming the payments were “consulting services.”

Esquenazi is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. Rodriguez is free on bond. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for October 13, 2011.

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