A federal judge in Florida has ruled that a Haitian-American journalist defamed Haiti’s prime minister in reporting on the sale of a telecommunications company acquired by the Caribbean country’s government.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and South Florida businessman Patrice Baker sued Leo Joseph in Miami federal court in September over his reporting for the New York-based Haiti-Observateur.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro said in a Feb. 6 ruling that she agreed with Lamothe and Baker that Joseph had published false and malicious reports about Lamothe’s role in the sale of Haitel.
Ungaro also prohibited Joseph from ever again writing about Lamothe or Baker in their professional, personal or political lives.
This news release does not explain what happened.
Franck Cine was once a Vice-President of MCI. During the embargo period – 1991-1994 – he negotiated a banking licence, with the intervention of General Cedras. SOCABANK was the result of this and was allegedly funded with cash from the cocaine business. In fact, the mega-criminal, who was reported to have stolen millions from the World Bank, Leslie Pean,
acted as an advisor to SOCABANK and told friends of Franck Cine’s insistence upon being named to the Board of Directors, of SOCABANK, because – after all – he had contributed most of the money to finance the bank. There were also rumors, to the effect, that Charles Beaulieu the Governor of the Central Bank, during the embargo period, also managed to divert millions to the SOCABANK project, which he would head. In any event, Cine was never named a director of what was, in reality, his bank.
With Aristide, Franck Cine, managed to create HAITEL, a cell phone project, in which Aristide is reported to have received at least 5% – perhaps more – of HAITIEL’s cash flow, in return for his support. This business was better than cocaine and – other than the bribes to Aristide – was legal.
An addition advantage of having Aristide’s support was the ability of HAITEL to avoid paying taxes to the Government of Haiti.
These taxes would eventually amount to something near $50,000,000.
HAITEL was attractive to foreign investors and, at one point, Leslie Pean managed to interest the People’s Republic of Chine in the purchase of a holding in HAITIEL. This was reported to be something near $200,000,000.
In February of 2004 Aristide flew into exile, and Cine kept on in business. Finally, Preval won the presidency aqnd the game changed.
SOCABANK was illegally targeted and broken up, the pieces distributed among the other Haitian banks. It was claimed that SOCABANK was insolvent, which it wasn’t, but these are simply the maneuvers of business in Haiti.
Sort of a “Live by the sword, you die by the sword…”
Cine was still paying Aristide but Preval now wanted a large cut from HAITEL. Cine resisted and Preval managed to have him thrown into jail over the SOCABANK deal. Leslie Pean was warned by Preval and escaped to the States.
As a result, Cine was held in jail, finally transferred to Canape Verte hospital, where he lived for the next 2 years. He somehow managed to get released and flew to New Jersey where he remained until Michel Martelly won the election. At this time he flew back to Haiti, expecting to take up where he left off.
Cine did not take account of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, a businessman who made his money in the phones business. He understood Cine’s game and set out to recover the $50,000,000 owed the Government of Haiti, in back taxes, plus some other charges.
Cine was so arrogant that he did not see his peril and, through gross underestimation of Lamothe’s desire for legitimate government, a government that sees businesses paying taxes, Cine finally mismanaged the entire situation to a point where the Government of Haiti closed down HAITEL and took control of the company.
At this point there are those who believe that Franck Cine paid the Haiti Observateur to run several “off the wall” – libelous, slanderous and defamatory articles about Laurent Lamothe’s business activities, in Africa.
Cine is believed to have paid Haiti Observateur to create the articles accusing Lamothe and Baker of profitting illegally from the seizure and sale of HAITEL by the Government of Haiti, as revenge for the government’s seizure of the basically bankrupt cell phone company.
Lamothe took the very unusual approach, for a Haitian, by suing Haiti Observateur in Federal Court.
This approach took the debate out of the normal Haitian world, where wildly untrue material is a daily diet in the Haitian media, and placing it into the American legal system, where you cannot knowingly publish lies and evidence, under oath, is expected to be true: You cannot simply “buy a judge.”
And so Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe won a victory that should make some Haitian media personalities think twice, about past, present and future lies.
Since Haitian newspapers are sold, in the States, and Haitian radio station are piped to America over the Internet, the blatherings of Liliane, and others, could be the subject of litigation, within the American judicial system.
Congratulations Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe for a determined and brave search for the truth.
Perhaps you can now look under a rock and target Franck Cine, the originator of these lies.