Another Successful FCPA Prosecution Against Individuals—More Terra Telecom Execs Appear Headed for Prison for Haiti Bribes

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After a two-and-a-half-week trial and five hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Miami last week returned yet another favorable verdict for the Department of Justice (the DOJ) in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) prosecution. Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez, former executives of Terra Telecommunications Corp., were convicted on all counts for their roles in a scheme to pay bribes to Haitian government officials at Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (Haiti Teleco).

Esquenazi was the president and Rodriguez was the executive vice president of Terra, a Miami based telecommunications firm. Terra had several contracts with Haiti Teleco—the sole provider of land-line telephone service in Haiti and a state-owned company.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2001 through 2005, Terra paid more than $890,000 to shell companies to be used for bribes to Haiti Teleco officials. The company allegedly hid these payments through false records claiming that the payments were for “consulting services,” which were never intended or actually performed. The DOJ alleged that the purpose of the bribes “was to obtain various business advantages from the Haitian officials for Terra, including the issuance of preferred telecommunications rates, reductions in the number of minutes for which payment was owed, and the continuance of Terra’s telecommunications connection with Haiti.”

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