A federal jury in Boston found the chairman and CEO of an investment firm and a member of the investment firm’s board of directors guilty today for their participation in a scheme to bribe officials of the Republic of Haiti in exchange for business advantages for the investment firm.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of the District of Massachusetts and Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI’s Boston Field Office made the announcement.
Roger Richard Boncy, 74, a dual U.S. and Haitian citizen who resides in Madrid, Spain, and Joseph Baptiste, DDS, 66, of Fulton, Maryland, were found guilty after a two-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs of the District of Massachusetts of one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Travel Act. Baptiste was also convicted of one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Boncy and Baptiste are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Burroughs on Sept. 12, 2019.
“Richard Boncy and Joe Baptiste conspired to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Haitian officials to do business there,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “Today’s guilty verdict sends a strong message that those who use corrupt means to obtain unfair and illegal business advantages will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by the Department of Justice.”
“Bribery of public officials corrodes public trust and victimizes the public these officials are supposed to serve,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “We will continue to target Americans who try to bribe foreign public officials for business advantage.”
“Mr. Baptiste and Mr. Boncy had no problem soliciting bribes to funnel to senior government officials in Haiti through blatantly illegal means,” said Special Agent in Charge Bonavolonta. “Every dirty dollar they were trying to secure undermines those who are trying to conduct business lawfully. Cases like this only fuel the FBI’s commitment to tackling corruption, and today’s guilty verdict ensures that both of them will be held accountable for their actions.”
According to evidence presented at trial, Boncy and Baptiste solicited bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as potential investors in connection with a proposed project to develop a port in the Mȏle St. Nicolas area of Haiti. The proposed project was expected to cost approximately $84 million and was to involve the construction of a cement factories in its first phase, with subsequent phases having a shipping-vessel recycling station, an international transshipment station with numerous slips for shipping vessels, a power plant, a petroleum depot and tourist facilities. During a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel, Boncy and Baptiste told the agents that, in order to secure Haitian government approval of the project, they would funnel the bribes to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity that Baptiste controlled, which was based in Maryland and purported to help impoverished residents of Haiti. In intercepted telephone calls played during trial, Boncy and Baptiste discussed bribing an aide to a high-level elected official in Haiti with a job on the port development project, in exchange for the aide’s help in obtaining the elected official’s authorization for the project. Boncy and Baptiste also told the undercover agents that they would hide the bribes through money falsely earmarked for social programs and that they would bribes officials at all levels of the Haitian government.
The FBI’s Boston Field Office and International Corruption Unit investigated the case. Trial Attorney Elina Rubin-Smith of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kriss Basil of the District of Massachusetts are prosecuting the case.
The 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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Author: June 20, 2019