Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Jovenel Moïse, Haiti's president-elect, said he was questioned for four hours by an investigating judge over allegations of money laundering and special treatment in loans.
Moïse, a 48-year-old former banana exporter, is set to be sworn in on Feb. 7, but a judge recently launched an investigation after Haiti's Central Financial Intelligence Unit said Moïse may have "manipulated funds that have nothing to do with his businesses" -- allegations dating back to 2013.
Moïse, who said he went to the court voluntarily without an attorney, rejected the accusations as a political smear by his opponents. The judge had not taken action until four opposition senators demanded information about the intelligence unit's confidential findings.
"Certain people should not be allowed to exploit the law, to decide the only way to engage in politics is to accuse others of lying," Moïse said of the senators.
Investigators are looking into allegations that Moïse received more than $1 million in delinquent loans that were quickly approved without following procedures. They are also seeking information about his ownership of 45 vehicles and his bank transactions, including large daily deposits that exceeded the amount that needs to be declared to authorities.
"This is purely a political battle, and it has nothing to do with the truth," Moïse told The Miami Herald on Tuesday.
It is unclear if the judge will rule on the accusations before Moïse is sworn in as Haiti's 58th president.
"We would like for this dossier to be clarified before the president is sworn in, to protect the country," Haitian Sen. Evalière Beauplan, one of the opposition senators who demanded an investigation be launched, said. "We risk spending the next five years with the country not getting any kind of [foreign] assistance ... If they believe the president is involved in money laundering, they will say we are a corrupt state and they cannot lend us any money."
The November election that led to Moïse being declared the winner came more than a year after Moïse won another election that was annulled after violent unrest following allegations of widespread voter fraud. Haiti has struggled with political instability and poverty for decades.
A magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 killed up to 316,000 people and initially displaced 1.5 million people. Tens of thousands of Haitians remain living in temporary shelters following the earthquake.