Haiti reveals ‘colossal loss’ of $4M worth of corruption
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (AP) — A football stadium that was paid for but never built. A school that diverts resources from students. A mayor kicked city hall out of his mother’s home and avoided paying property taxes.
Those and dozens of other alleged acts of corruption cost the Haitian government a “tremendous loss” of about 500 million goudes ($4 million) at a time when the country’s infrastructure is crumbling due to political instability and rising poverty, officials said.
The charges were unveiled on Thursday by Haiti’s anti-government corruption unit, whose director-general, Hans Josef, pledged to hunt down those who “undermine public finances and stifle the country’s economic and social development efforts.”
He called on judicial officials in Haiti to act on his agency’s findings.
Jacques Lafontant, the government commissioner for the Port-au-Prince capital, told The Associated Press on Friday that he would order everyone named in the report to appear in court.
“The process will begin without delay,” he said.
Released to the public, the 30-page report summarizes a lengthy investigation launched by Joseph’s agency and provides a window into the rampant corruption in Haiti, where more than 60 percent of the population of more than 11 million can only be Live on about $2.
The agency conducted 10 unrelated investigations and found alleged corruption at two schools, three mayor’s offices and three government agencies.
It accused the general manager of the Haitian National Lottery of embezzling more than 41 million Haitian gourdes ($300,000) with the help of her brother, a legal professional, and failing to charge the company for operating rights, resulting in a shortfall of 269 million gourdes ($300,000). More than 2 million) will be turned over to the state treasury.
In addition, it found irregularities in the debit cards issued to employees by the Haitian National Police, noting that benefits illegally given to fired or retirees cost more than 18.2 million gourdes ($140,000) in just three months .
It also accused the former mayor of the southern coastal town of Petit-Goave of embezzling nearly 12.8 million gourdes (more than $98,000) planned for several projects.
The former official also allegedly set up a town hall in his mother’s home, “putting himself in a situation where he had to choose between protecting the interests of the mayor’s office or the interests of his mother,” the report said. It accused him of failing to pay taxes on the property and said money was missing from staff payrolls.
A former mayor of the northern coastal town of Anse-Rouge is accused of creating more than two dozen fictitious employees whose checks would go to the city’s accountants. In addition, the report says there is no evidence that 835,000 gourd ($6,400) was spent on five purported sanitation projects, nor that 595,000 gourd ($4,500) provided by international aid group Oxfam was used to purchase Fuel is used for this purpose.
Also in the north, a former mayor of San Rafael is accused of paying a company more than 2 million goodes ($15,000) to build a football field and reading center that was never built. The anti-corruption agency said it tried to track down the company’s officials, but said the physical address provided did not exist.
The agency accused the former principal of a school in Messard, central Haiti, of embezzling more than 2 million gourdes ($15,000), claiming he had 735 students instead of 1,004 enrolled.
Joseph said that despite “significant structural differences” in Haiti, he wanted the government to reclaim its assets and fully punish those he called “enemies of the republic.”
Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.