Election Day – Just Who is a Foreign Government Official?

Ed. Note-we continue our series of guest posts from our colleague Mary Shaddock Jones, who today looks at the issue of foreign government officials under the FCPA. Both she and I urge you to exercise that most important right of all Americans–to vote for the candidate of your choice.

Today is a monumental day for the United States – Election 2012. I am writing this blog on Monday, October 22, and as such, have no idea who will actually be elected as the next president of the United States. However, regardless of whom you voted for or whether they won or lost – it is always important to keep in mind that we as a nation are blessed to be a democracy. Let us never lose sight of the importance of freedom of speech, and the concomitant duty that freedom imposes upon us all, to speak up for what we believe is right or wrong. Speaking of which, this leads me to today’s topic – the Haiti Telecom case.

In 2009 the Department of Justice charged Juan Diaz with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to Haitian officials for the purpose of securing business advantages from Haiti’s state-owned telecommunications company. In October 2011, Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriquez, the former president and vice president of Terra Telecommunications, were sentenced for their roles in a scheme to bribe officials in Haiti’s state-owned telecom company. Esquenazi received 15 years, the longest sentence imposed in the history of the FCPA and Rodriquez received 7 years behind bars.

Both men have appealed their convictions, and one of the key issues on appeal is “Whether Esquenazi (Rodriquez) is entitled to an acquittal because employees of Haiti Teleco were not “foreign officials” within the meaning of FCPA simply because the National Bank of Haiti owned shares of Haiti Teleco and the Haitian government appoints board members and directors”.

The Brief filed by Appellant, United States v ...

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