Jean Rene Duperval, sentenced for bribery by Cinergy and Terra

Jean Rene Duperval, a senior telecommunications official in Haiti whom everyone highly thought of was found guilty on corruption charges of having received a bribe from two Miami based companies by the names Cinergy and Terra, in order to give them a lucrative long-distance phone contracts in the Caribbean nation. Evidence at his trial in March showed he took almost $500,000 in bribes. He was hired as Haiti Teleco's director of international relations by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2003, is the first Haitian government official to be convicted at trial by the Justice Department under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law prohibits American businesses from paying bribes to foreign businesses and government officials.

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On his defense Jean Rene Duperval said that the money was a token of appreciation from the two companies of his work in the industry. Prosecutors said that from November 2001 through March 2005 the company paid more than $890,000 to shell companies to be used as kickbacks to Haitian government officials. He will now spend 9 years behind bars for his involvement in practices which are contrary to what is expected of a diligent office holder.

His wife, who came to his defense, defended her husband saying to the judge by the name Jose Martinez, "My husband is a U.S.-educated engineer from a prominent Haitian family headed by two doctors and i wish you had met him, under better circumstances."During the closing arguments, Justice Department lawyer James Koukios mocked Duperval's defense. He did not leave the fact that the "appreciation token" was quite expensive to be a present.

Testimony showed Jean Rene used the money mainly for personal expenses such as a home mortgage and children's education costs. The judge said the act was "perjurious," and I quote him. He was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy related to accepting the bribes.

The jury unanimously found Jean Rene Duperval guilty in the March in a case based on 2001-2005 dealings that involved several former officials who served under former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The senior officer was lucky as earlier on he was facing a 20 year jail term but was sentenced to 9 years in prison during the trial judge. Duperval makes history by being the first Haitian official to face trial in a foreign corruption case brought by the Justice Department -- the result of a criminal investigation into bribery allegations against him and other officials, including Aristide. The former president, who served from 2001 to 2004, has not been charged.

Jean Rene Duperval, telecommunications, bribe, jail, Haiti
Haitian telecommunications official Jean Rene Duperval is going to jail for accepting bribes.

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