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
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
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.
For more cutting edge commentary on
developing securities issues, visit SEC Actions, a
blog by Thomas Gorman.
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