April 7, 2023 -The United States says it has imposed visa and financial sanctions on the former president of the Haitian Chamber of Deputies, Gary Bodeau, for his alleged involvement in corruption. US Secretary of State, Antony J Blinken, said the decision is in keeping with efforts to “support the people of Haiti and respond to the ongoing instability in the country.
“The Department of State is publicly designating Bodeau under Section 7031(c), rendering him generally ineligible for entry into the United States. Concurrently, the Department of the Treasury is designating Bodeau under the Global Magnitsky sanctions programme and as a result of this action Bodeau’s financial assets in the United States have been blocked,” Blinken added.
He said the United States and its partners will continue to “use all tools at our disposal to support the Haitian people and promote accountability for corrupt actors who exploit the Haitian people and contribute to the ongoing instability in Haiti”.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson, said “corrupt officials like Bodeau have created an environment that empowers illegal armed gangs and their supporters to inflict violence on the Haitian people.”
“Along with our partners, including Canada, we are committed to holding accountable those undermining the integrity of Haiti’s government and destabilizing the country,” he added.
Washington alleges that 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.
“In 2018, Bodeau paid Haitian officials to secure their votes while seeking ministerial position appointments. He also solicited a large bribery payment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from senior government officials in exchange for his political support,” it added.
Washington also alleged that in 2019, Bodeau offered to deliver a successful vote in Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies for a prospective ministerial appointee in exchange for millions of dollars paid out through individual payments to members of the Chamber of Deputies.
“Several Haitian businessmen provided between 500 and 600 million Haitian gourdes (approximately US$6.2-$7.4 million) to members of the Chamber of Deputies to influence the outcome of a ministerial vote.,” it said, adding that “in advance of the floor session, Bodeau participated in discussions on the vote and payments with various members of the Chamber of Deputies.”
Bodeau is not the first Haitian government or public official to be sanctioned by the United States. In recent months, Washington has imposed sanctions on President of the Haitian Senate, Joseph Lambert, Youri Latortue, Senator Rony Celestin and former legislator, Richard Fourcand.