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The smoking gun: the IDT-Haiti contract

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By Lucy Komisar
July 29, 2008

Articles I wrote this month about the resignation of IDT CEO James Courter as John McCain’s finance co-chair provoked supporters of former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to noisy denials and personal attacks. My reports appeared in portfolio.com, the website of Condé Nast Portfolio, a major U.S. business magazine. I wrote that Courter had resigned after I reported that the Federal Communications Commission had fined IDT $1.3 million for failing to file its contract with Haiti.

Why would IDT fail to file the contract? Maybe because it shows that in this Aristide-administration deal, payments were below the legal 23 cents a minute set by the FCC (money that would have gone to Haiti) and that IDT payments were ordered sent to a shell company account in the Turks & Caicos instead of to a government account in Haiti. (A shell company is a paper company that does no business other than to move money to hide corrupt deals.) Read the contract.

The contract shows that IDT benefited by getting a cheap deal, paying only 8.75 cents per minute to Haiti  The money was sent to Mont Salem, a shell run by Turks & Caicos lawyer Adrian Corr. According to Michael Jewett, a former IDT official sueing that company, Mont Salem was owned by Aristide, who used it to siphon off a 3-cents per minute kickback.

From the Jewett case:

“Plaintiff asked defendant Jack Lerer [Executive Vice President for International Business Development] what Mont Salem was, and he replied it was the private bank account of the President of Haiti, Mr. Jean Bertrand Aristide, that had been created by legal counsel for President Aristide, Adrian Corr, member of the law firm Miller, Simons and O’Sullivan.”

Corr denies that Mont Salem belongs to Aristide. All he has to do to prove his point is to provide documents of the true ownership and paper trail of Mont Salem’s finances. Here are the Turks & Caicos registration documents of Mont Salem signed by an official of Corr’s law firm, Miller-Simons-O’Sullivan. Let’s follow the money!

Aristide’s lawyer, Ira Kurzban of Miami, has been active in denunciation of my articles. He certainly has an interest in the matter. Documents show that Kurzban got at least $10 million working for Aristide, including fees from the corrupt Haiti TeleCo. See these documents. And more. As Kurzban worked for TeleCo, perhaps he can tell us where the money that passed through Mont Salem ended up.

For background, see the eight articles I have written about the IDT-Haiti scam, including for the Haiti Democracy Project (a policy group) and for CorpWatch, Inter Press Service (IPS) and portfolio.com (all media organizations).

2 Responses for “The smoking gun: the IDT-Haiti contract”

  1. Jean-Michel Armand says:

    I’m Jean-Michel, Haitian American living in Boston, Mass. I wish I had seen a journalist like you. Information is a power. Give you my best thanks for your document regarding Haiti.

    Sincerely, Jean-Michel

  2. Clifford Qualo says:

    While there is cause to denounce Haitian corruption as you have done, I am bewildered at the lack of focus on the support given these actors to circumvent the legal process and how the said actors came to be in a position in which they could continue defrauding without the complicity of other international benefactors. This information will undoubtedly raise these issues (and justifiably so) as the only line of defense for fanatics who believe in the infallibility of the former Haitian president as compared to those in power in the “First World.” Peace.

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