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U.S. alleges bribes to Haitian officials

MIAMI, July 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday several defendants have been charged in a Haitian bribery scheme.

Named on a superseding indictment in Miami for their alleged roles in a foreign bribery, wire fraud and money-laundering plan were Florida's Cinergy Telecommunications Inc., Cinergy's president and director, the president of Florida-based Telecom Consulting Services Corp. and two former Haitian government officials.

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The superseding indictment said the defendants allegedly participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from December 2001 through January 2006. During that time, the indictment alleges, Cinergy and its related company, Uniplex Telecommunications Inc., paid more than $1.4 million to shell companies to be used for bribes to foreign officials of the Republic of Haiti's state-owned national telecommunications company, Telecommunications D'Haiti (Haiti Teleco).

The bribe payments allegedly were authorized by Washington Vasconez Cruz, the telecommunications companies' president, and Amadeus Richers, the companies' director, and were allegedly paid to Haitian government officials at Haiti Teleco, including Patrick Joseph and Jean Rene Duperval.

The superseding indictment said the purpose of the alleged bribes was to obtain various business advantages from the Haitian officials for Cinergy and Uniplex, including preferred telecommunications rates and credits toward sums owed. To conceal the bribe payments, the defendants allegedly used various shell companies to receive and forward the payments, including J.D. Locator Services, Fourcand Enterprises and Telecom Consulting Services, the department said.

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If convicted, the defendants would face penalties of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $500,000 on each count.

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