Bribery, cement, corruption, Duvalier, environment, Haiti, Haitian Americans, immigration, Joseph Baptiste, mining, Mole Saint Nicolas, NGO, petroleum depot, port development, shipping, tourism, VCS Mining
As the US’ fourth largest city and other coastal areas literally drown, the rest of the US and the world spin on, at least until they run out of gasoline, but then they will probably import from abroad, maybe even Russia. Five years after this blog started as Haiti Mining Awareness and was meant to be three posts only, this arrest appears some vindication. The underlying theme of this blog has remained awareness of corruption and environmental awareness. Although people don’t want to admit it, immigrants usually bring their culture with them. This impacts the culture of the host country. High influx of immigrants from highly corrupt countries, without allowing time for cultural assimilation, appears to have had a corrupting effect on the USA, and often on their own countries. This case seems to be an example. See too for instance: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/why-was-holtec-debarred-as-tva-contractor/ The US has let in record numbers of legal immigrants over the last decades – one million per year, with less than 10% as refugees. To compare, one million people left Ireland during the 7 years of the Great Famine in the mid 1800s. Not all Irish famine refugees went to the US, but to England, Scotland, South Wales, Canada, and Australia, as well. Another million died. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_(Ireland)
Although Joseph Baptiste is a very common Haitian name, documentation, including a photo at Stripes .com, points to it being the same one who served on the board of VCS Mining. Ironically, it was because of a nasty email from a geologist (uranium-gold expert) regarding VCS’ Morne Bossa mine which led to our becoming an anti-nuclear blog. Five years on, we come full circle.
Note that this investigation started a year and a half after our blog entry regarding Joseph Baptiste (see excerpt further below).
“U.S. Attorneys » District of Massachusetts » News
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Retired U.S. Army Colonel Charged with Conspiring to Bribe Senior Officials of The Republic of Haiti
BOSTON – A retired United States Army colonel was arrested and charged today for conspiring to bribe senior officials of the Republic of Haiti, and to launder funds for that purpose, in connection with a planned $84 million port development project in that country.
Joseph Baptiste, 64, of Fulton, Md., was charged in the District of Massachusetts with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to commit money laundering. Baptiste will make an initial appearance in federal court in Maryland this afternoon.
According to court documents, in or about August 2014, an investigation began into certain Haitian-American businessmen who were offering to facilitate bribes to high-level officials in the Haitian government, in exchange for the ability to obtain or retain business in that country.
It is alleged that Baptiste solicited bribes from undercover agents in Boston who posed as potential investors in infrastructure projects in Haiti, in connection with a proposed project to develop a port in the Mole-Saint-Nicolas area of Haiti. The proposed project was expected to cost approximately $84 million and was to involve the construction of multiple cement factories, a shipping-vessel recycling station, an international transshipment station with numerous slips for shipping vessels, a power plant, a petroleum depot and tourist facilities. During a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel, Baptiste allegedly told the agents that he would funnel the payments to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity that he controls – which is based in Maryland and purports to help impoverished residents of Haiti – in order to secure government approval of the project. The complaint also alleges that, in a subsequent recorded phone call, Baptiste had the following exchange with one of the undercover agents:
AGENT: OK, and would all the money that I . . . that I wire to you . . . would it all go to [Foreign Official 1] or only part of it?
BAPTISTE: I would say all of it
AGENT: OK, so all the . . . so if [I] wire you 20 . . . if I wire 25,000 to [Maryland Non-Profit 1] it will all go to [Foreign Official 1]?
BAPTISTE: All going to be . . . yes, uh-huh.
AGENT: OK, and then, uh . . . you’re not . . . it . . . will he do those letters [committing to support the project] without the money? He . . . or does he have to have that money?
BAPTISTE: I think he has to have it.
In intercepted telephone calls, Baptiste also allegedly discussed bribing an aide to a senior Haitian official with a job on the port development project. It is alleged that after undercover agents wired approximately $50,000 to the non-profit controlled by Baptiste for the purpose of bribing Haitian officials, Baptiste used the $50,000 for personal purposes, though he intended to seek additional money from the agents to use for future bribe payments in connection with the port project.
The charging statute provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb of the District of Massachusetts; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen E. Frank, Chief of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit, and Trial Attorney Aisling O’Shea of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The charges contained in the charging document are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
USAO – Massachusetts
Updated August 29, 2017 “. https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/retired-us-army-colonel-charged-conspiring-bribe-senior-officials-republic-haiti
According to the VCS Mining web site, Dr. Baptiste, DDS, resigned from their board on March 21, 2016. https://web.archive.org/web/20161111053229/http://vcsmining.com/press/ https://web.archive.org/web/20170415011158/
About Dr. Baptiste, DDS: https://web.archive.org/web/20130221140011/http://vcsmining.com/management.html
Four and a half years ago, this blog pointed out regarding the Haitian Senate mining stay that the proposed committee of experts, who would examine the existing contracts, risks being akin to the fox guarding the hen house. A committee comprised of experts from the UEH (State University of Haiti) and of “Haitians living abroad” would risk including those benefiting from the mining contracts. And, the MTPC (Ministry of Public Works) is over the BME (Bureau of Mines), which approved the contracts in the first place….
The Haitians living abroad, often called Haitian Diaspora risk being represented by the Haitian Diaspora Federation and NOAH, both creations of Joseph Baptiste, DDS, who sits on the Board of Directors of VCS Mining, the US holder of Delta Mining, which, in turn currently hold the Morne Bossa Convention and the Lasile Permit. Also, both he and SOMINE’s Jean-Marie Wolff were founders of Promocapital, which has been described as a sort of joint venture between Promobank and NOAH. While called Promocapital in the US, and registered in Delaware, it is (or was) incorporated as Promocapital Haiti, SA – a “Societe Financiere de Developpement”- in Haiti. We are unsure if this is the same as SOFIHDES (Societe Financiere Haitienne de Developpement Haitienne) or if Promocapital Haiti disappeared along with Promobank, whose shares were reportedly bought by SOGEBANK and UNIBANK. SOFIHDES has close ties to SOGEBANK. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/haitian-senate-demands-temporary-stay-against-mining-will-martelly-lamothe-respond/
An example of how immigration impacts policy, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_entry_into_World_War_I#Public_opinion
We are not in any way suggesting that Angelo Viard-VCS Mining was (or was not) involved in this case or any illegal activities (unless we provided evidence thereof in earlier posts which we have forgotten about.) However, we accuse VCS mining and Angelo Viard of immoral activities, though it could be from ignorance rather than malice. It’s easy for people to think of mining as being free money when nothing could be farther from the case due to environmental damange. Even Dr. Baptiste,DDS, has only been charged and not proven guilty of anything. Hillary haters will again have a field day about her brother having served on the VCS board. But, there is no evidence to our knowledge that he is any more than a hanger-on anyway. However, we hope that evidence of any wrong-doing and fraud related to Haiti mining comes out during the case. Baptiste’s Mole Saint Nicolas Project appears to be a competitor to the Clinton’s pet USAID project at Caracol. https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/files/zkVt_d13558._Restricted.pdf The VCS properties appear to have been recently purchased by what is apparently an Australian penny stock company – 3D resources.