, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug 19 – A former Haitian prime minister denied Friday corruption allegations lodged against him by a senate commission probing the use of government funds in the poorest country in the Americas.
The allegations against former premier Laurent Lamothe and 14 other former ministers and senior officials also involve nepotism and illegal procurement in the management of a public finance program.
“It is extremely serious that gratuitous and dishonest allegations peddled by ill-intentioned people have been passed on with no proof in a report from the Senate,” Lamothe said in a statement.
The allegations in Thursday’s report concern Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program, initiated by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to supply cheap oil to Haiti and other Caribbean and Central American countries. They have 25 years to pay their bills at an interest rate of one percent.
Haiti has spent 12 years in the program, under whose terms the impoverished Caribbean nation has received loans of more than $2 billion for financing economic and social projects.
The Senate’s ethics and anti-corruption committee investigated management of those funds because “there is a feeling among the population that the funds were poorly used at best and, at worst, partly diverted to personally enrich certain executives with the responsibility to manage them,” the committee said in a report.
Months of investigation led the committee to conclude that the management of Petrocaribe funds represents “a vast deception of the state,” the report added.
Lamothe, who served from 2012 to 2014, dismissed the allegations as “slanderous and misleading.”
Lamothe resigned under fire, amid opposition charges that he embezzled public money.