Former Haitian prime minister vows to clear his name
<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 16px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px; float: none; display: inline !important; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; color: rgb(136, 136, 136); background-color: rgb(241, 241, 241);">Haiti's former Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe</span>

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — Former Haitian prime minister, Laurent Salvador Lamothe, has “vehemently rejected” United States' allegations of his involvement in “significant corruption” in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.

On Friday, Washington announced sanctions against the former government leader.

“This action renders Lamothe generally ineligible for entry into the United States,” said US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken, adding “specifically, Lamothe misappropriated at least US$60 million from the Haitian government’s PetroCaribe infrastructure investment and social welfare fund for private gain.

“Through this corrupt act and his direct involvement in the management of the fund, he exploited his role as a public official and contributed to the current instability in Haiti,” Blinken said, noting that the Biden administration continues to support “the citizens, organisations, and public servants of Haiti who are committed to generating hope and opportunity for a better future in their nation.”

But in a statement, Lamothe said, “regrettably, Secretary of State Anthony J Blinken’s decision is not based on factual proof but repurposed hearsay dating back to Mr Lamothe’s time as prime minister from 2012 to 2014.”

“ln fact, the Department of State, in its November 2022 report to the U.S. Congress …outlined that there was no “specific disappearance of funds” identified in a PetroCaribe report,” Lamothe said.

The former prime minister, who is the latest of former Haitian leaders to face sanctions imposed by Washington regarding their term in office, said the Secretary of State’s newly imposed sanction “achieves nothing but the bidding of some of his long-standing political opponents in Haiti, as acknowledged by the same report.”

Lamothe said during his time as prime minister, these same opponents maneuvered to undermine his ability to govern by spurring civil unrest and violent anti-government protests. He said their “insatiable desire” to damage his character did not waiver following his resignation.

Lamothe said “on the contrary, it intensified and culminated into a dubious and politically-charged PetroCaribe report that the US Department of State negligently used” to make him a target.

He said over the past nine years, five independent audits from Haiti’s Supreme Audit Court (CSCCA), the Anticorruption Unit (ULCC), and the Venezuelan government’s PDV CARIBE thoroughly scrutinized his financial management and conclusively found no wrongdoing attributed directly to him.

Lamothe insists that he has been an “upstanding member of the Miami community ever since his college years, boosting the local economy through his business and job-creating ventures”.

He said South Florida is also home to his two daughters and that he had returned to Haiti in 2011 only to serve his homeland’s government in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

The statement said that sanction Lamothe and his “general ineligibility to enter the US,” the Department of State’s designation is “forcing the separation of a family and shutting a father out of the transformational lite experiences of his teenage daughters”.

Lamothe said he remains “resolute to pursue all legal avenues afforded to him to challenge the Department of State designation, to clear his name, recommit to the truth, and above all, reunite with his family.”

Blinken said that the United States will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain, and that Lamothe’s designation “is part of a series of actions that promote accountability for those who foment violence, block life-saving humanitarian support, and enrich themselves at the expense of the Haitian people.”

On April 5, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the former President of the Haitian Chamber of Deputies Gary Bodeau, pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13818, for his extensive involvement in corruption in Haiti.

The US Treasury Department said EO 13818 “builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.”

The action followed a December action in which OFAC sanctioned two Haitian politicians, Rony Celestin and Richard Fourcand, for abusing their power to further drug trafficking activities in the region. Bodeau had also been sanctioned by Canada.

In November and December 2022, the United States sanctioned four Haitian individuals—Joseph Lambert, Youri LaTortue, Rony Celestin and Herve Fourcand — under Executive Order 14059, which includes both financial sanctions and visa restrictions.

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