A judge questioned Haitian president-elect Jovenel Moise on Wednesday about a confidential report leaked during the election campaign that suggested he might have laundered money and received special treatment to get loans before the businessman ran for the nation’s highest political office.
Moise, who is scheduled to be inaugurated as Haiti’s next leader on Feb. 7, met with a Haitian judge in a closed-door session that lasted four hours.
Moise said he decided to go to the court voluntarily without an attorney because he has nothing to hide and respects the law.
Moise asserts all of his business dealings are above board. He blames rivals for manufacturing the allegations to “create instability” in the deeply divided nation with a long history of political tumult and damage his reputation before his swearing-in ceremony.
“Under my administration no one will be able to use the justice system to destroy someone,” Moise told reporters following the session with the judge of instruction, adding that he believed that institutional weakness was also a reason behind the report by the Haitian Central Financial Intelligence Unit and separate allegations that he received sweetheart loans from a state-owned bank.
Judge Bredy Fabien, who is also hearing testimony from others, has to decide whether there is evidence for a case to proceed or if the matter should be dismissed. It is a secretive process akin to a US grand jury that can take months.
Four opposition senators who revived questions about the report are pressing for it to be fully investigated before Moise’s oath-of-office ceremony.
The watchdog agency’s leaked report examines bank accounts held by Moise, his wife and his businesses from 2007 to 2013. Before being hand-picked in 2015 by former Haitian president Michel Martelly to become his political faction’s presidential candidate, Moise was an entrepreneur from northern Haiti who started an auto parts company, a water-distribution business and a public-private banana plantation launched in 2014 called Agritrans.
Among other things, the administrative report questions sizeable deposits into the accounts and purchases of 45 vehicles registered in Moise’s name.
The judge is also weighing allegations that the state-owned Haitian Popular Bank lent Moise cash without going through the normal procedures, which is a longstanding perk for politically connected Haitians.
Members of Moise’s Tet Kale party have suggested that the report was leaked at the height of campaigning for a presidential election at the urging of outgoing caretaker Haitian president Jocelerme Privert’s administration.
Privert’s government denies any involvement.
Moise easily won the election with 55 percent of the votes amid low turnout.
The first-round victory came more than a year after Moise topped an initial presidential vote that was eventually thrown out for suspicions of alleged fraud, leading to a lengthy period of political limbo.
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for