Who paid for this mansion in Canada? Haitians demand answers
Mr Célestin said he also owned a radio station called Model FM, which he started in a rural area but which grew to the point that he set it up in a suburb of Port-au- Prince, the capital. The station has a small, discreet office in the suburb of Pétionville, without signage. On both visits to The Times, the office was closed, or only one person was present who could not provide any information about the station – not even an advertising rate sheet.
Mr Célestin said he also owned a gas company called PetroGaz-Haiti, but by his own description it appeared to violate legal prohibitions on profiting from public funds. While politicians are allowed to own businesses, the Constitution prohibits them from having contracts with the state, which Mr Celestin said he had for four years through the business.
As outrage brews, the Haitian government’s Anti-Corruption Unit launched a purchase inquiry of the Célestin house in Canada in February. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the national police force, said it could not disclose whether it was also investigating the transaction. But under Canadian regulations, the purchase should have set off a red flag, said Garry Clement, the former head of an RCMP unit investigating money laundering.
As a senator, Mr. Célestin is considered a “politically exposed person” under Canadian money laundering regulations, which means that financial institutions are required to exercise due diligence in determining the source of. any funds transferred greater than $ 100,000. These rules would also apply to Ms. Célestin as the wife of a “PPE”, explained Mr. Clément.
Mr. Célestin said everything about the purchase was flawless. “If I hadn’t been clean, I would have had a lot of problems with the Miami banks,” he added, saying he regularly transfers between $ 20 million and $ 30 million to Turkey to buy iron. for what he described as one of his import businesses. “I would be scared if my money wasn’t clean. “
But Mr. Célestin and his lawyer in Montreal, Alexandre Bergevin, refused to answer follow-up questions or provide the names of his import company or farm. His wife, an advisor at the Haitian consulate in Montreal since 2019, did not respond to a request for comment.