Where Lies the Morale Compass of Denis O’Brien
In Relation to the Moriarty Tribunal, the cards are on the table.
Judge for yourself
March 2010, a judicial tribunal found that a former minister for communications, Michael Lowry, “secured the winning” of the 1995 mobile phone license competition for Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone. The tribunal also found that O’Brien made two payments to Lowry, in 1996 and 1999, totalling approximately £500,000, and supported a loan of Stg£420, 000 given to Lowry in 1999. In his 2,348-page report, Mr. Justice Michael Moriarty found that the payments from O’Brien were “demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr. Lowry” during the licence process, acts which benefited Esat Digifone. In effect, O’Brien was trading in influence or ‘legal corruption’
Did O’Brien and Lowry behave in an ethical way in this matter
Let’s step back in time
The telecommunications company has been accused of giving gifts to a senior Antiguan government adviser who, along with an ambassador-at-large, have been suspended for allegedly making improper contacts with the tender’s board which is considering bids for the sale of the mobile department of the state-run utility company.
Senior adviser to the Minister of Communications Dean Jonas and Ambassador-at-large Dr Isaac Newton were suspended last month after Communications Minister Wilmoth Daniel said they met with the tender’s board in [an] attempt to influence the members to accept Digicel’s bid.
Once again, we see controversy in obtaining a licence from an O’Brien company
Where lies the moral compass of Digicel?
The licensing of mobile network operators has occurred in an unstructured, random fashion that defies explanation. Ownership has been obscure and one suspects deliberately so with the aim of concealing nepotism and corruption
Prosecutors in the USA identified smaller operators, which had been bribing politicians and officials at Haiti Teleco, by way of shell companies, in order to get cheaper rates for calls. A series of convictions has resulted in over forty years of jail sentences. By means of money laundering charges, some of the recipients of the bribes have since been extradited and convicted resulting in jail sentences of up to 40 years.
In May 2006, Comcel and Haitel had about 500,000 subscribers – a cell phone coverage rate of 6% for a population of 8.2 million. Digicel entered the market in May 2006. After one year of operations, May 2006-May 2007, Digicel went from zero to 1.4 million subscribers. The two other cell phone providers in Haiti, Comcel, and Haitel, responded by cutting their prices and offering new services. As a result, Comcel and Haitel increased their subscribers from 500,000 to 1 million. As of April 2012, Digicel has about 3.5 million cell phone subscribers in Haiti. In May 2007, Digicel started offering two BlackBerry services with the Internet, one for enterprises and one for individuals. On March 30, 2012, Digicel has made the acquisition of Comcel / Voila, its main competitor in the Haitian market.
The question is was all of this possible without backhanders.
It was interesting to see that one of the witnesses who appeared in the High court defamation trial against the Irish Daily Mail was the Former Minister for Social Affairs in Haiti Ms. Josefa Gauthier she told the High Court she does not believe businessman Denis O’Brien’s relief work following the earthquake was an act. She said that Mr. O’Brien never sought to publicise his aid work.
Ms. Josefa Gauthier is also a former director of the Digicel Foundation (1)
The disappearing millions
MIAMI, USA – President Michel Martelly told the Haitian Diaspora community in Miami that the National Fund for Education, established in May 2011, had accumulated $16 million [US] and not a penny of it had been touched. Although in January of 2012, Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien said the fund had collected $20 million [US], and in October 2011, the then-Minister of Education said the fund had $28 million [US].
In this instance the magnetic field appears to be giving the compass some problems nevertheless the signs still point to dollars
The background of Josefa is rather interesting.
*Ms. Josefa Raymond Gauthier is the daughter of Adrien Raymond a former minister under Duvalier Government a regime well known for corruption and heavy-handed treatment of its citizens.
On the return of baby doc. Jan 16 2011 delegation of former officials who had served under his regime was waiting at the airport including the former foreign affairs minister Adrien Raymond and former presidential guard commander, the former Colonel Christophe Dardompré.
Current Haitian government links to old regime would bear scrutiny … Thierry and Gregory Mayard-Paul, whose father Constantin Mayard-Paul was a lawyer for Claude Raymond, a feared army lieutenant general under “Baby Doc.” Etc
It is interesting to note that Laurent Lamothe the current Prime Minister has a background in telecommunications
*Min. of Planning & External Cooperation 07/11/201
(1) Many large corporations have charitable foundations and no doubt do good work. It should also be noted that some of the most corrupt companies in the world also have charitable foundations which leads to an illusion that they must be on the road to the
O’Brian and Digicel Never far from Controversy – Haiti, Digicel National Fund for Education smells fishy
MIAMI, USA (defend.ht) – President Michel Martelly told the Haitian Diaspora community in Miami that the National Fund for Education, established in May 2011, had accumulated $16 million [US] and not a penny of it had been touched, although in January of 2012, Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien said the fund had collected $20 million [US], and in October 2011, the then-Minister of Education said the fund had $28 million [US].
The Miami Herald reported about Michel Martelly’s visit to Miami Monday December 10 and made this citing:
Martelly said $16 million has been raised since the tax was introduced in May 2011, and “we haven’t touched one penny of it.”
But on January 26, 2012, Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien was asked at his radio station NewsTalk about the National Fund for Education. O’Brien said:
“… just before the inauguration of President Martelly he brought the mobile phone operators together and said we want to bring a new tax on in-bound calls so that American people ringing-in or European people ringing-in Haiti there will be a 5 cents tax collected by the operators in Haiti and we agreed immediately.”
“This money now is in the Central Bank and it’s part of the money being used to send children back to school for the first time… it’s raised probably now at this stage, about $20 million.”
Take note, that Denis O’Brien also said at this interview in January that the tax had initially slowed down the volume of calls but now the volume of calls were back to where they were before the tax.
Two weeks before this interview, Digicel Haiti sent out a press note on the FNE stating that its contribution to the fund as of the end of December 2011 was $13 million [US]. Other mobile carriers at the time also made contributions and money was also being collected on money transfers for the FNE, the other contributions totaled about $10 million [US] in January 2012.
Further raising questions was an October 2011 declaration by President Martelly’s Counselor on Education Gaston Mercier who reported that $28 million [US] had been collected.
Defend Haiti projects that the National Fund for Education should have $136 million [US]. DH is using the figure of $8.5 million [US] per month given at the launch of the FNE that was attended by Digicel Haiti, NatCom and Voila CEOs, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) representative Bashire Lamine, and International Monetary Fund representative in Haiti, Bouleau Loko.
The National Fund for Education still to this day is illegal in Haiti. It is an unlawful tax that was imparted without the authorization of Parliament.
The administration says none of the FNE money is being used to fund education, in fact, they say none has been used at all while continuing to promote it as the reason for the free education program in Haiti which, in fact, existed years before Martelly began running for office.
Digicel, which has a public perception that it financed the campaign of Michel Martelly, has a heavy hand in the National Fund for Education that is illegal in Haiti. It is believed by many that the fall of Digicel’s main competitor, Voila, was due to the implementation of the tax.
Denis O’Brien, Digicel’s CEO, has been the subject of multiple corruption and bribery scandals in other countries in the past.
01.27.2012: Michel Martelly and Denis O’Brien in cahoots.
Tomorrow: O’Brian and Digicel Never far from Controversy – A Gate for Whom