July 3, 2021
Under the Duvaliers, ONA – l’Office National d’Assurance- was sacrosanct. No government, commercial, or individual could touch a penny. Under Jean Claude Duvalier, Theo Achille, as a cabinet minister, suggested a project would use $4,500,000 from the ONA treasury.
This concept was instantly shot down.
As the ongoing years slipped by, this massive pool of pension funds, accumulated so Haiti’s population could enjoy the benefits of a pension, became too big a temptation.
Small dribbles were captured from the reservoir.
When there was no outcry, power centers would appoint a tame Director so a focused pillage could take place,
“ILLEGAL – LEGAL” loans were made.
Briefcases of $100 bills were carried from ONA offices without any effort to be subtle.
Unbelievable loans were written for friends and family of the Current Control. In one case, Youri Latortue organized loans for himself, and family members. The classic one was a huge loan for his old mother. It was a 3% item due in 33 years. I think his mother was 83 years old, at the time.
Loans at 3% in an economy where 14% and up is really the standard. Someone can take $1,000,000 from ONA and loan it out at 20% making a 17% profit, without doing anything at all!!
That’s an income of $170,000 per year.
$1,000,000 in $100 bills weighs 23 pounds, plus briefcase. Even a little old lady can carry this, although Senator Youri Latortue’s mother didn’t even have to visit ONA for the paperwork covering her millions.
Aristide has been the recipient of many, many briefcases containing fresh $100 bills!
But the long-term game is a simple one.
Questionable legal documentation is created, to cover loans. Since they are mostly super long-term, like 33 years, the documentation will “disappear” in 18 months, or so, and the loans will be forgotten amongst the mists of ONA’s poor bookkeeping.
Now, the Poster Boy of ONA indiscretions Is Doctor Gerald Boulos, the Guy who would be King. An arrest warrant has been issued for a $1,000,000 loan in 2018 that is now being viewed as fraudulent.
The loans I liked were the multi million dollar ones supporting the Boulos purchase of the El Rancho Hotel, a commercial operation if there ever was one. A commercial operation that will never see a member of Haiti’s Traditional Society staying in its luxury rooms.
Few will even act as janitors.
The loan was a 3% one with a 6 year moratorium in payments in an economy that can see 14% commercial loans with no moratorium.
If ONA was making 14% loans, profiting the Social Insurance concept of ONA, we could understand. But the 3% loans, made only to specific businessmen/politicians and mothers of Senators steal the benefits from Haiti’s 14,000,000.
Time for the government to reassess the entire ONA situation and call the outstanding, immoral loans that bridge the political spectrum.