Jury Convicts Two Men on FCPA Charges

Joel Esquenazi, the president of Miami based Terra Telecommunications Corp., and Carlos Rodriguez, the executive vice president of the company, were convicted on all counts following a jury trial. Specifically, the two men were convicted on one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud, seven substantive FCPA counts, one count of money laundering conspiracy and twelve counts of money laundering. U.S. v. Esquenazi (S.D.Fla.).

The charges are based on a scheme which began in November 2001 and continued through early 2005 to bribe government officials at Telecommunciations D'Haiti S.A.M. or Haiti Teleco. During the period the defendants paid about $890,000 in bribes to officials at Haiti Teleco through a series of shell companies. The purpose of the bribes was to obtain favorable business advantages, including better rates and a continuation of service. To conceal the payments the defendants used various shell companies and created false records.

Earlier in the case the defendants raised the question of who is a foreign official. The court submitted the issue to the jury under an instruction which contained a non-exclusive list of factors to be used in evaluating the question. The jury returned a verdict after only five hours of deliberations.

The two convictions are only the latest in a series in connection with these transactions. Previously, Antonio Prez, the former controller of Terra and Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. Mr. Perez was sentenced to twenty-four months in prison while Mr. Diaz received a fifty seven month sentence. Robert Antoine, the former director of international affairs for Haiti Telco pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit moey laundering. He has been sentenced to forth eight months in prison. Jean Fourcand, the president and director of Fourcand Enterprises Inc. pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. He was sentenced to six months in prison.

Other defendants in the case are awaiting trial. Washington Vasconez Cruze, Amadeus Riches, Cinergy Telecommunications Inc., Patrick Joseph, Jean Rene Duperval and Marguetite Grandison have been charged in a related scheme. Their trial date has not been set.

Program: Current Trends in FCPA Enforcement, August 17, 2011, Live in Menlo Park, CA, and webcast nationally. The program link is here.

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