Magazine article Security Management

Haitian Money Laundering

Magazine article Security Management

Haitian Money Laundering

Article excerpt

THE UNITED STATES Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping fund two new programs in Haiti with the goal of increasing transparency of financial transactions there. Haiti is one of the least developed and most corrupt nations in the western hemisphere--and one of the world's poorest. As such, it has been a hotbed of financial crimes, such as money laundering.

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One program is a new Web-based application for reporting and tracking suspicious financial transactions and excessive customer bank movements. The site would be operated by the Haitian government's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

"The implementation of the system not only improves the ability of the Haitian authorities to track suspicious financial transactions, it also improves the efficiency of business processes at the commercial banks, and has helped to clarify the execution of the Money Laundering and Drug Trafficking Law," USAID said in a statement.

The aforementioned law, enacted by Haiti in 2001, specifically provides that the Caribbean nation cooperate with other countries to fight money laundering and facilitate extraditions and asset seizures of drug traffickers. The law stipulates that forfeiture and seizure of assets are contingent upon convictions.

Haiti ranked as the most corrupt nation in the world in 2006 by Transparency International, beating out Burma and Iraq. According to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince (the capital), the country has become a key conduit for drug traffickers transporting cocaine from South America to the United States and, to a lesser extent, to Europe.

American officials malign the police for a "long history of corruption," while they lambaste the judicial system as "dysfunctional, its prosecutors and judges susceptible to bribes and intimidation."

U.S. authorities point to other barriers to Haiti's ability to curb the drug trade and corrupt practices. The country has 1,125 miles of unprotected shoreline as well as many uncontrolled seaports and clandestine airstrips. The country also has weak democratic institutions and a longstanding convivial relationship between the police and drug runners. "Drug trafficking organizations operate with impunity, exploiting the instability and the weak institutions in the country," the U. …

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