Details of U.S. sanctions against Rony Celestin and Hervé Fourcand

Emmanuel Paul
Emmanuel Paul - Journalist/ Storyteller

The U.S. government has added two new names to the list of Haitian personalities sanctioned for corruption, financing of armed gangs and illicit drug trafficking among others. They are Senator Rony Celestin and former Senator Hervé Fourcand. They are accused of illegal drug trafficking and corruption.

The information was disclosed by the U.S. Treasury Department.  “Today, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Haitian citizens Rony Celestin (Celestin) and Richard Lenine Hervé Fourcand pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14059 of December 15, 2021, “Imposing Sanctions on Foreign Persons Involved in the Global Illicit Drug Trade,” reads a statement released on Friday.

In justification, the U.S. Department of the Treasury explains that: “OFAC has designated Célestin and Fourcand for engaging, or attempting to engage, in activities or transactions that have significantly contributed, or have a significant risk of significantly contributing, to the international proliferation of illicit drugs or the means of their production. The Government of Canada has also designated Celestin and Fourcand.”

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), an entity of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, claims to have information proving that Senator Rony Célestin “is involved in international drug trafficking activities,” adding that the parliamentarian “has used his political position to orchestrate the importation of drugs from Venezuela to Haiti, as well as the export of drugs to the United States and the Bahamas.”

As for former Senator Hervé Fourcand, OFAC explains that the former southern parliamentarian also used his position to facilitate his “international drug trafficking activities. To facilitate the transportation of illicit products through the South Department, Hervé Fourcand allegedly used his own plane, OFAC revealed, accusing the former Haitian Tet Kale Party (PHTK) senator of having “attempted to use his political influence to install people in government positions that would help facilitate his drug trafficking activities.”

With this decision, the assets of the two alleged drug traffickers in the United States are frozen. Businesses owned 50% or more by these individuals at Uncle SAM are also prohibited from operating in accordance with “OFAC regulations generally prohibit all transactions by or in U.S. persons (including transactions transiting through the United States) that involve property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.”

Other individuals who also collaborated with the two alleged criminals will also be sanctioned by the United States, OFAC said.

Senator Rony Célestin and his former colleague Hervé Fourcand have just added to the list of alleged drug traffickers sanctioned by the United States. The names of the President of the Third Senate Josoph Lambert and former Senator Youri Latortue were already published last month for the same reason.  This brings to 7 the names of Haitian personalities, subject to sanctions, made public by the United States.

On the OFAC website a fact sheet is published with information about Joseph Lambert, Youri Latortue, Rony Celestin, Hervé Fourcand, Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan, Fedenel Monchéry, and Jimmy Chérizier.

With the exception of Jimmy Chérizier, all the other people on the list are members, close associates or former collaborators of the PHTK.

A few weeks ago, Canada had already published a list containing, among others, the names of former President Joseph Michel Martelly and former Prime Ministers Laurent Salvador Lamothe and Jean Henry Céant. Rony Celestin, Hervé Fourcand, Youri Latortue, and former deputy Garry Bodeau are also sanctioned by Canada.

For now, three major reasons are advanced by Canada and the United States. They are corruption, illegal drug trafficking, and financing of armed gangs.

Not all of the individuals sanctioned fall into the same category. Rony Celestin, Hervé Fourcand, Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue are accused of drug trafficking by Canada and the United States, while Michel Martelly, Lamothe Lamothe, Jean Henry Céant, and Garry Bodeau are accused of financing armed gangs in Haiti by Canada.

Other names should soon be released by the United States, it was learned.

The decision to sanction Haitian political leaders was made at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. A resolution was introduced by the U.S. ambassador to the UN with the support of Canada and other members of the council.

Canada, the United States, and the UN were working on a joint list, according to Canadian Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan in an exclusive interview with ZoomHaitiNews last month.

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