Port-au-Prince, Haiti: An anti-corruption agency appointed by Haiti’s interim government has accused ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and 18 members of his cabinet of misappropriation of more than $76 million in public funds, and a lawsuit has been filed to try to recover part of the money.

The Financial Inquiry Central Unit (UCREF) said in a report, obtained on Thursday, November 3 by Caribbean Media Corporation, that Aristide had embezzled or misused more than $76 million, including funds from the national telephone company, during the February 2001 to February 2004 period.

The government of Haiti and the state-run telephone company, known as Teleco, filed a complaint before the southern district Court of Florida to try to recover part of those funds, government officials said on Thursday.

Jailed former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, 17 cabinet members and several other state functionaries who served under Aristide, as well as other businessmen, private enterprises and contractors, are also targeted in the report for alleged corruption and misappropriation of state funds.

During the 2001-02 period, the report found that about $10 million was spent by Aristide’s office without proper justification, while more than $55 million  was used, between February 2002 and February 2004, in violation of all administrative rules. The government anti-corruption agency said the presidency was allowed to spend only $11 million dollars for that period.

UCREF’s general director, Jean Yves Noel, claimed those funds were diverted and laundered through several fictitious companies, before landing, in part, on the bank accounts of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, the Professional and Technical University and a charity organization, all founded by Aristide.

Noel sent his report to an investigative judge for further legal proceedings against Aristide and his alleged accomplices, and against a number of well known enterprises, businessmen and private contractors who had received important sums of money from the presidency, apparently in exchange for services provided.

We are not saying that all those mentioned in the report are necessarily guilty of anything, such decision can only be made by a competent judge, said Noel, acknowledging that some are on the list because they are doubtful beneficiaries of state treasury funds or they had misused them.

The report did not establish any evidence of personal enrichment by Aristide or his alleged accomplices, and did not say what those funds were used to do or in which banks those funds could possibly be found.

Aristide’s allies in Haiti accused interim authorities of trying to kill Aristide politically.

This government has no credibility to judge President Aristide’s management. We know it is a political lynching, said Rene Momplaisir, a leader of Aristide’s Lavalas party grassroots movement in the Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil.