Senate's President, Joseph Lambert, rejects the demand of Administrative Court to turn over PetroCaribe Corruption Report

Posted by on Sunday, March 25, 2018 Under: Corruptions

(Haitian Senate's President, Joseph Lambert in grey suit) Image credit LeNouvelliste.

In January 2018, the Senate decided that it had no jurisdiction to hear the PetroCaribe corruption report, and instead sent it to the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigations (CSC / CA), commonly referred to as the Court of Auditors, for further investigation. The moved drew vivid critics as two judges of the court are also accused in the report. Now there is a new development.

PetroCaribe Corruption report sent to court of Auditor after unannounced Senate session. Two members of the court are accused in the report

On March 5th 2018, the President of the Court of Auditors, Arol Elie, in a letter, asked the recently installed President of the Senate Joseph Lambert, “ to communicate the two reports that the Ethics and Anti Corruption Committee have already produced on the management of the PetroCaribe fund.” In respond to the demand of the judge,  Lambert, whom initially supported the decision of the court of Auditors being chosen to investigate the sensible issue, refused to send a copy of the damning 686 pages investigative work to the court, giving the following explanation during a brief interview with LeNouvelliste: “ The reports have not been sanctioned by the Senate. From the institutional point of view, I cannot formally transfer them to the Court of Auditors. But reports are available in the Senate for consultation of the Court, as for other institutions, “

The Senate has taken steps to bury the initial investigative report, by creating a special commission which in turned developed “an in-depth” report of the first one. Judges of the Court of Auditors are being threatened to not talk about two reports; only one: The new "in-depth" one.

The administration of Haitian President Jovenel Moise has been rocked by the scandal of corruption in funds management of PetroCaribe; a loan program launched by Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, in 20016, that benefits many Latin American and Caribbean countries. Funds from the savings of oil brought from Venezuela under the preferential terms of Petrocaribe amounted to more than $2 billion in the period of 2010- 2016,  after a year long analysis, the Haitian Senate’s Ethic commission found that most of that money had been “ “wasted mismanaged, embezzled” in what the report concluded was “essentially a large scale state fraud.”

Most of those pinned in the now infamous PetroCaribe Corruption report are mostly former officials during the 2010-2015 Michel Martelly Presidency, including two former Primer Ministers and Minister of Finance, Wilson Laleau, whom now serves as President Jovenel Moise’s Chief of staff. Jovenel Moise was handpicked by Martelly as his successor.

President Jovenel Moise, whom is also accused in the report before being president, of having over-billed the government for solar streetlights installations, has publicly qualified the report as a political witch hunt. More than $11 millions from the PetroCaribe fund were disbursed to his company in 2013 to install 2.500 solar streetlights in all the country’s geographic departments.

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Despite all the efforts of the President to "drag things" when it comes to PetroCaribe investigation, as he himself admitted during a visit to the Haitian diaspora community in Paris in December 2017,  developments relating to it however has not ceased to dominate headlines; especially after the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Haiti, Susan Page, had recently applauded the decision to appoint special judges to investigate the PetroCaribe corruption allegations, while also condemning that the same was not done when it came to allegations of human rights abuses made against police officers in two specific cases. The Haitian government responded strongly to the comments by recalling Haiti's Ambassador to the United Nations; President Jovenel Moise, last minutes, cancelled his attendance at a high level U.N meeting on Cholera in Haiti and following a tense phone call with the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, Susan Page was recalled. Neither the Haitian Ambassador nor the U.N Secretary General's Special Representative in Haiti, has yet returned to their post. 

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In : Corruptions