Haiti diplomats ordered home – Three recalled after visa scam corruption probe

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE Haitian government has recalled three diplomats from its Nassau embassy, including Chargé d’Affaires François Michel.

The recall follows a commission of inquiry into concerns of corruption earlier this month.

The Tribune can confirm Mr Michel, Consul Herns Mesamours and First Secretary Blaise Claudy received their letters to return to Haiti last week.

The Haitian commission’s investigation centred on claims the embassy was involved in getting visas for Haitians and finding fake partners for them to marry to gain status in The Bahamas. 

In a statement announcing the commission, Haitian officials referenced media coverage of an arraignment of three Bahamians and two Haitians accused of a fraudulent marriage scheme on July 24. The commission conducted its investigations from July 29 to August 3.

According to an embassy statement, the group met with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the two Haitians in prison awaiting trial; the superintendent in charge of the investigation and other government officials. 

The commission’s report has not been made public, and according to sources close to the matter, the letters received by the three diplomats do not give an explanation for their immediate recall.

Over the weekend, Haitian media reports suggested the Bahamian government had advised it no longer wished to work with diplomatic staff.

Yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield rejected the assertion.

“The Bahamas government has no knowledge of this,” Mr Henfield said. 

“I refute any assertion that we intimated in any way to the Haitian government any issues concerning personnel at the embassy in that regard.”

The recall comes as Haiti continues to shoulder a political crisis.

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has named a new prime minister but the country’s Parliament has yet to ratify Fritz William Michel and an 18-member cabinet.

According to the Miami Herald, the country does not have a functional government that can propose a budget to Parliament, ratify accords or approve other measures.