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Originally: Corruption Probe

U.S. aids Aristide inquiry in Haiti


U.S. departments of Treasury, State and Justice are working with Haitian
leaders on a corruption investigation of former President Aristide.


BY NANCY SAN MARTIN


nsanmartin@herald.com


U.S. Treasury Department investigators are in Haiti scouring bank and other
records for evidence of corruption by ousted President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide and his government, a top department official said Thursday.



The investigation, conducted in coordination with Haiti’s interim government
and also the U.S. departments of State and Justice, was launched three
months ago and also includes a review of bank accounts outside the Caribbean
nation.



”This is a general review of financial activities by the Aristide regime,”
Juan Carlos Zarate, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist
financing and financial crimes, told The Herald. “We’ve got people in
Haiti, Treasury officials . . . technical assistance supporters as well as
investigators.”



`AGGRESSIVE STAND’



Zarate declined to go into the details or progress of the investigation, but
said the inquiry is similar to those carried out in post-Saddam Hussein
Iraq.



”As part of U.S. government efforts to deal with the issue of corruption
internationally . . . we are taking a very aggressive stand with respect to
finding and attempting to repatriate assets that have been stolen from the
people of deserving countries by corrupt leaders,” he said.



But Ira Kurzban, Aristide’s Miami attorney, said, ‘This is further evidence
of the the Bush administration’s involvement in the coup against Aristide.
Why else would they be spending taxpayers’ money to send investigators to
Haiti to uncover what they claim is pilfering . . . when they refused to
take any action for three years to help the Haitian people or the Haitian
government?”



Aristide has accused the United States of forcing his departure and unfairly
halting aid during his tenure. The Bush administration has denied the
allegations.



LONG-STANDING CLAIMS



Claims of Aristide government corruption and mismanagement of public funds
have swirled in Haiti since his reelection in 2000, but grew stronger with
his Feb. 29 ouster amid a bloody revolt.



Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed in April that U.S. law enforcement
officials are investigating allegations that Aristide received money from
drug traffickers to grease the movement of cocaine shipments through Haiti.



Convicted Haitian drug trafficker Beaudoin ”Jacques” Ketant told a Miami
federal courtroom in February that he paid millions in bribes to Aristide.
After Aristide left, stacks of rotting $100 bills were found in a safe in
his home.