On April 5th, the Department of State took action against the ongoing instability in Haiti by imposing visa restrictions on former President of the Haitian Chamber of Deputies Gary Bodeau. He is now generally ineligible for entry into the United States.
Acting State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel explained why the U.S. has taken this step:
“Bodeau perpetrated significant corruption in Haiti by using his official position to solicit and facilitate bribery schemes designated to influence the outcome of political appointments. Such acts like these contributed to ongoing violence, instability, and absence of the rule of law in Haiti.”
Concurrently, the Department of the Treasury designated Bodeau under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program and as a result Bodeau’s financial assets in the United States have been blocked.
“Corrupt officials like Bodeau have created an environment that empowers illegal armed gangs and their supporters to inflict violence on the Haitian people,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. “Along with our partners, including Canada, we are committed to holding accountable those undermining the integrity of Haiti’s government and destabilizing the country.”
Bodeau was involved in several corrupt schemes wherein he engaged in efforts to influence the outcome of Haitian political appointments.
In 2019, Bodeau offered to deliver a successful vote in Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies for a prospective ministerial appointee in exchange for millions of dollars paid to members of the Chamber of Deputies. Several Haitian businessmen provided between $6.2 and $7.4 million to members of the Chamber of Deputies to influence the outcome of a ministerial vote. In advance of the floor session, Bodeau participated in discussions on the vote and payments with various members of the Chamber of Deputies.
The designation of Bodeau follows November and December actions in which the State Department took steps to impose visa restrictions on three Haitian politicians, Joseph Lambert, Rony Celestin, and Romel Bell, for their involvement in significant corruption. In December 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated two Haitian politicians, Rony Celestin and Richard Lenine Herve Fourcand, for abusing their power to further drug trafficking activities in the region.
The United States and its partners will continue to use all tools at their disposal to support the Haitian people and promote accountability for corrupt actors who exploit the Haitian people and contribute to the ongoing instability in Haiti.