WASHINGTON (CMC) – The United States on Friday sanctioned former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe for his alleged involvement in “significant corruption.”
“This action renders Lamothe generally ineligible for entry into the United States,” said US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken. “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,” added Blinken, stating that the Biden administration continues to support “the citizens, organizations, and public servants of Haiti who are committed to generating hope and opportunity for a better future in their nation.
“The United States will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain,” he continued. “Today’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,” Blinken noted.
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 (E.O.) 13818, for his extensive involvement in corruption in Haiti.
The US Treasury Department said E.O. 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.”
“Corrupt officials like Bodeau have created an environment that empowers illegal armed gangs and their supporters to inflict violence on the Haitian people,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Along with our partners, including Canada, we are committed to holding accountable those undermining the integrity of Haiti’s government and destabilizing the country.”
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.
The Treasury Department said it sanctioned Bodeau, pursuant to E.O. 13818, for “being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
“Bodeau was involved in several corrupt schemes wherein he engaged in efforts to influence the outcome of Haitian political appointments, including facilitating and soliciting bribes worth millions of dollars,” the department said. “In 2018, Bodeau paid Haitian officials to secure their votes while seeking ministerial position appointments.”
It also said that Bodeau “solicited a large bribery payment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from senior government officials in exchange for his political support.”
On February 16, Blinken sanctioned five Haitian individuals and seven family members as subject to visa restrictions under section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“This policy impacts Haitian officials and other individuals involved in the operation of street gangs and criminal organizations that have threatened the livelihoods of the Haitian people and are blocking life-saving humanitarian support,” Blinken said. “This action sends a clear message of our continued commitment to root out corruption and impact the behavior of bad actors whose influence underpins the lawlessness in Haiti.”
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.