Fictional government jobs and contracts, political protection, embezzlement, and university and government officials using government bank accounts as personal checkbooks.
These are just some of the scandalous findings released late this week by the Haitian Anti-Corruption Unit after investigations of 10 different government institutions and agencies that include the municipalities of Petit Goâve, Fort-Liberté, Saint-Raphaël and Anse Rouge. the national lottery; the Haitian National Police and the School of Law and Economics in Gonaives.
Overall, the bottom line was the same: Haiti’s public administration is a cesspool of corruption in which the actions of public servants and elected officials go unchecked and do whatever they want without concern for the consequences. The cost has been the loss of millions of dollars from government coffers in a poverty-stricken country that is lagging behind in development and unable to deal with widening inequality in the face of multiple crises.
“There is enormous disorder and waste,” Hans Jacques Ludwig Joseph, head of the anti-corruption unit, told the Miami Herald after the 25-page report was released. “It is a public administration that has been completely weakened because of this phenomenon we call corruption which is multidimensional and has prominent personalities among its actors.”
The report singles out a number of familiar faces—city mayors, the head of the national lottery, a current board member of the Central Bank, the government’s regulatory agency and the former head of Haiti’s National Police. The findings range from abuse of power and mismanagement that led to the loss of government revenue to more serious acts of misappropriation of government resources and property.
The allegations in the reports date back to the government of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who took office in 2017 and was killed on July 7, 2021. The reports came out this week, Joseph said, because the investigations were just completed. His investigators have dozens of other allegations of civil service corruption they are pursuing across the country that they hope to make public soon, he added.
“The system that has been put in place to verify, to control, to predict these kinds of actions that public servants and representatives of the state take, is not effective enough,” Joseph said, adding that the next step is for the judiciary system of the country. to do his job. “I always say that corruption has a name. It’s called impunity. If you don’t have an effective justice system that has the political will to go after people, try and punish the right people, then it’s hard to get the results you want… Now the justice system has to take the wheel? if not, then we will issue reports to no avail.”
In some cases, Joseph is seeking criminal prosecution on charges of influence peddling, embezzlement of government funds and other acts of corruption. In others, such as the one involving former Haitian National Police chief Léon Charles, who was replaced late last year, Joseph is calling for an investigation by government auditors, the Supreme Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes.
Charles, who currently serves at the Organization of American States, is accused of “mismanagement” after he failed to inform human resources officials and others within the Haitian National Police about officers and civil servants who had retired or been fired or fired. they were no longer eligible for an allowance increase on their debit cards.
“This slowness caused, for the period from December 2020 to February 2021, a shortfall of about eighteen million two hundred and forty thousand,” the report said, about $144,080 at current exchange rates.
The findings about Charles are among the least blatant. More serious charges involved loans from the Industrial Development Fund that were given on the basis of political patronage and were not repaid. Joseph recommends criminal prosecution of Edgar Jeudy, a current member of the Central Bank’s board of directors, for abuse of power and obstruction of justice in an investigation involving the fund.
Among other claims in the findings:
▪ The mayor of Petit Goave, Limongy Samson, housed the town hall in his mother’s house. He is accused of using state funds for improvements and his mother is accused of failing to pay property taxes.
▪ In Fort-Liberté in northeastern Haiti, authorities found that “various acts of corruption,” including embezzlement, took place “from beginning to end” in a project to electrify the town of Dumas. Funds were misused, investigators found, and public procurement laws were not followed by either municipal officials or representatives of the contracting company.
▪ In Saint Raphael, Investigators found that funds were granted for a football stadium that was never built and contractors were using non-existent addresses.
▪ There was a shortfall of more than $2.1 million in the national lottery that should have gone to the public purse. The anti-corruption unit is recommending public action against the head of the lottery, Marie Margareth Fortune Daudier, for embezzlement of public property and abuse of power, and Jean Moïse Fortune for complicity in the embezzlement of public property.
If there is one case that shows how civil servants see themselves as running fiefdoms, it is the law school of the Gonaives. Investigators said they found “a state of anarchy, widespread disorder and almost total opacity in the way” the school is run both academically and in terms of administrative and financial planning.
The former president of the school, Luc Benoît Pierre, told researchers that 25% of the 3,000 students were admitted without proof that they had even graduated from high school. Investigators found that despite Pierre’s multiple attempts to take corrective action, a group of workers bypassed him and succeeded “because of his opposition and bad faith [law school] officials who enjoy this chaotic situation that characterizes its operation [the law school] today.”
Two employees, Roland Paphius and Cheddlie Cherenfant, are accused of embezzling $67,396 by issuing checks to employees for “virtual services that have nothing to do with the assignments of their respective positions.”
When Pierre found out what was going on and tried put an end to administrative mismanagement by blocking access to the bank accounts of Law School employees, the culprits opened a new account, allegedly with the help of the vice-chancellor.