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Mr Célestin said he also had a radio station called Model FM, which he started in a rural area, but grew to the point that he installed it in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, the capital. The station has a small, discreet office in the suburb of Petionville, with no signs. On both of the Times’ visits, the office was closed or there was a single person with no information about the station – not even an advertising rate sheet.
Mr Célestin said he also owns a gas company called PetroGaz-Haiti, but from his own description it appeared to be illegal to benefit from government funds. Politicians are allowed to own companies, but the constitution prohibits them from entering into contracts with the state that Célestin claims to have had over the company for four years.
The anti-corruption unit of the Haitian government is brewing with indignation started a Investigation of the purchase of the Celestin House in Canada in February. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the national police force, said they could not say whether they are investigating the transaction. But under Canadian regulations, the purchase should have raised a red flag, said Garry Clement, the former head of an RCMP unit that investigates money laundering.
As a Senator, Mr. Célestin is a “politically exposed person” under Canadian money laundering regulations, which means financial institutions must perform due diligence to determine the source of all funds transferred in excess of $ 100,000. These rules would also apply to Ms. Célestin as the wife of a “PEP”, explained Mr. Clement.
Mr Célestin said everything was fine with the purchase. “If I hadn’t been clean, I would have been in a lot of trouble with the Miami banks,” he added, saying that he routinely sent between $ 20 million and $ 30 million to Turkey to buy iron for what he considered carry out one of its designated import transactions. “I would be scared if my money wasn’t clean.”
However, Mr Célestin and his Montreal attorney, Alexandre Bergevin, declined to answer any follow-up questions or to give the names of his importing company or farm. His wife, who has been an advisor at the Haitian consulate in Montreal since 2019, did not respond to a request for comment.