Haitian President Jovenel Moise last week fired the director of The Central Unit of Financial Information (UCREF) Sonel Jean-Francois, who was leading an investigation into money laundering allegations that were made against Jovenel Moise as President-elect; even though Jean Francois’ mandate was not due to expire until 2020; a move that closely resembles the recent decision of American President Donald Trump, to fire the Director of the FBI, James Comey, who was investigating the possible collusion of Donald Trump’s campaign with Russian operatives, in the hacking of the 2016 american election by releasing damaging leaks about Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
A new UCREF director was suppose to be installed Thursday, but the inauguration was cancelled, no other date was given and no question was taken from the press.
A few weeks after Jovenel Moise was officially declared President-elect of Haiti, an official report of UCREF about the financial transactions of the then President-elect was leaked to the media. The report concluded that there were numerous indications that the President had laundered money through a personal bank account which he held jointly with his wife, Martine Moise.
The UCREF report cited financial transactions of Jovenel Moise between 2007 and 2013 which were considered suspicious and forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office at the Civil Court in accordance with article 35 of the Law of 11 November 2013 on money laundering and The financing of terrorism.
The leaked report indicated that more than $5 million in suspicious transfers were made through a National Credit Bank account.
The president vehemently rejected the allegations as political maneuvers and while he didn’t deny to have had an account at the National Credit Bank, he said that the account in question was in Haitian gourdes, not in US dollars, meaning that its value was 40 times less than reported. But the President has never made public any information related to the controversial account; such as pictures or any shred of evidence to prove that the bank account that was being investigated for money laundering was actually in Haitian gourdes and not in US currency, as alleged in the official UCREF’s report.
The leaked report caused a huge scandal and the Haitian Senate had urged the Judiciary branch to take up the case. Four lawmakers on January 16th, 2017 penned a letter to the president of the Senate, Yourie Latortue to urge the National Assembly to give appropriate attention to the report before the inauguration of the President on February 7th, 2017.
Days after Judge Breddy Fabien took over the case, On January 25th 2017, Jovenel Moise, still as President-elect, interfered into the investigation by showing up at the judge’s office without an invitation. The President said that he was not interfering but simply wanted to show that no one was above the law, not even himself, who had just been elected President of Haiti few weeks ago. The undisclosed conversation between the President and the Judge went on for more than two hours.
People with close knowledge of the investigation and who have spoken under the condition of anonymity, said that Judge Fabien, behind closed door have also questioned the first lady, Martine Moise, in regards to the case.
Since the unexpected visit of the then President elect to the Judge’s office, no one has ever heard of the money laundering case against the President, as rumors and suspicions about the president’s possible money laundering continues to grow, after a close friend of the president, Guy Phillpe, a well known criminal who in 2004 had overthrown the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide and who had also been under an international search warrant by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) since 2006 for drug trafficking and international money laundering, was arrested by Haitian police and extradited to the United States 3 days before he was due to take the oath of office as Senator of the Grande Anse Department.
Guy Phillipe and then Presidential candidate Jovenel Moise publicly campaigned for each other, the endless pictures of them hugging and smiling together filled social networks, but since the arrest the president has not said a word about Philippe nor his arrest.
The Special advisor to the Haitian President Guichard Dore, said in a local television interview that the then “poor candidate” Jovenel Moise like every other candidate was not in a position to know what case the Haitian justice had against him. You know, Guy Phillipe was not the kind of criminal known to every one was for decades, but some kind of alien that appeared out of nowhere.
Guy Phillipe despite his long list of drug and financial crimes was allowed to run for Senator under the banner of the PHTK party, the same political party as the current president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, as well as his immediate predecessor, Michel Martelly. Part of the investigation into Guy Phillipe’s money laundering and drug trafficking by American justice is to also find out whom and what he has been financing with his illegal money. Political campaigns, such as that of the President himself perhaps?
While it is easy to squash a money laundering allegations against the president in Haiti by interfering into the judge’s investigation and firing the director of the agency which drafted the damning official report, the colossal mistake of the PHTK party to associate itself with a well known international drug trafficker, will continue to torment president Jovenel Moise, who seems to be sensitive about bad press, as Guy Philipe will continue to be on the news every time a new development during his trial in the United States takes place, and political names in Haiti, which are expected to have possible close connection to the PHTK party will continue to come out.
During other times, high ranking american officials perhaps would have had something to say about the firing of the man leading the investigation into the Haitian president’s money laundering allegations. Such as when the Obama administration condemned the Michel Martelly government when Judge Lamarre Belizaire fred two infamous criminals close to President Martelly: Woodly Etheart aka Sonson Lafamilia and Renel Nelfort on whom weighed heavy loads, including kidnapping against ransom, murder, illicit drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy.
But we are living in the Donald Trump era, where an American ambassador to Haiti has still not been named five months after Donald Trump took office and how his controversial actions are still inspiring the Haitian President Jovenel Moise.