Retired U.S. Army Colonel Indicted for Conspiring to Bribe Senior Government Officials of the Republic of Haiti

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A retired U.S. Army colonel was charged in an indictment filed today for his alleged role in a foreign bribery and money laundering scheme in connection with a planned $84 million port development project in Haiti.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb of the District of Massachusetts, Assistant Director Stephen Richardson of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Special Agent in Charge Harold M. Shaw of the FBI’s Boston Field Office made the announcement.

Joseph Baptiste, 64, of Fulton, Maryland, was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act, one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in an indictment filed in the District of Massachusetts.

The indictment alleges that Baptiste solicited bribes from undercover FBI agents in Boston who posed as potential investors in connection with a proposed project to develop a port in the Moles Saint Nicolas area of Haiti.  According to the indictment, the proposed project was expected to cost approximately $84 million, and was to involve the construction of a cement factory in its first phase.  The indictment alleges that during a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel, Baptiste told the agents that he would funnel the payments to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity that he controlled — which was based in Maryland and purported to help impoverished residents of Haiti — in order to secure government approval of the project. 

The indictment further alleges that in telephone calls Baptiste discussed bribing an aide to a senior Haitian official by giving him a job on the port development project after he left his position.  It further alleges that although Baptiste ultimately used for personal purposes approximately $50,000 that he received from the undercover agents for the payment of bribes to Haitian officials — money that was wired at Baptiste’s direction to a non-profit organization he controls — he intended to seek additional money from the undercover agents to use for future bribe payments in connection with the port project.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

This case was investigated by the FBI.  Trial Attorney Kevin R. Gingras of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen E. Frank of the District of Massachusetts are prosecuting the case.

 The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

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