Haiti reveals a “colossal loss” of 4 million dollars of corruption

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A soccer field that was paid for but never built. A school that has diverted resources from its students. A mayor who ran city hall from his mother’s house and avoided property taxes.

Officials say these acts of corruption and dozens of other alleged acts of corruption have cost the Haitian government a “colossal loss” of some 500 million gourdes ($4 million) at a time when state infrastructure are collapsing in a context of political instability and worsening poverty.

The allegations were released Thursday by Haiti’s anti-corruption unit, whose director general, Hans Joseph, has pledged to prosecute those who “torpedo the public treasury and asphyxiate the country’s economic and social development efforts.” .

He called on the Haitian judicial authorities to follow up on his agency’s findings.

Jacques Lafontant, government commissioner for the capital city of Port-au-Prince, told The Associated Press on Friday that he would order everyone named in the report to appear before a judge.

“The process will begin without delay,” he said.

The 30-page report released to the public summarizes the lengthy investigations launched by Joseph’s agency and offers a window into endemic corruption across Haiti, where more than 60% of its more than 11 million people struggle to survive with around 2 dollars per day.

The agency conducted 10 independent investigations, finding allegations of corruption at locations including two schools, three mayors’ offices and three government agencies.

He accused the chief executive of Haiti’s National Lottery of embezzling more than 41 million Haitian gourdes ($300,000) with the help of her brother – a legal professional – and of failing to charge fees. business operations, resulting in a shortfall of 269 million gourdes (more than $2 million) to the public treasury.

In addition, he found irregularities with the debit cards that the National Police of Haiti issued to employees, noting that the benefits illegally granted to those who were laid off or retired resulted in a loss of more than 18, 2 million gourdes ($140,000) in just three months.

He also accused the former mayor of the southern coastal town of Petit-Goâve of embezzling nearly 12.8 million gourdes (over $98,000) earmarked for several projects.

The former civil servant would also have installed the town hall in his mother’s home, “putting himself in a situation where he had to choose between protecting the interests of the town hall or those of his mother”, the report said. He accused him of not paying property taxes and said the money was missing from the employee payroll.

A former mayor of the northern coastal town of Anse-Rouge has been accused of creating more than two dozen fictitious employees whose checks went to the town’s accountant. Furthermore, the report says there is no evidence of five alleged sanitation projects for which 835,000 gourdes ($6,400) were spent and no evidence that 595,000 gourdes ($4,500) donated by the international aid group Oxfam to purchase fuel were used for this purpose.

Also in the north, a former mayor of Saint-Raphaël has been accused of paying a company more than 2 million gourdes ($15,000) for a football pitch and reading center that were never built. . The anti-corruption agency said it tried to track down those responsible for the company, but said the physical address provided did not exist.

The agency accused the former headmaster of a school in Maissade, central Haiti, of embezzling more than 2 million gourdes ($15,000), alleging he had just 735 students in place of the 1,004 registered.

Joseph said that despite Haiti’s “major structural differences”, he hoped the government could recover its assets and fully punish those he called “enemies of the republic”.

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Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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