Haitian emigrants to the US appeal decision to dismiss case that includes Digicel

Lawsuit alleges corruption against politicians and companies

 Digicel is the largest mobile  phone company in Haiti.

Digicel is the largest mobile phone company in Haiti.

 

A group of Haitian emigrants to the US have filed an appeal against a New York judge’s decision last month to throw out their €1.5 billion lawsuit alleging corruption against a number of Haitian politicians and companies there, including Denis O’Brien’s telco, Digicel.

In the case that was dismissed, the Haitian-US plaintiffs had alleged that Digicel, along with several other companies, “colluded” with politicians in Haiti, including former president Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, to “fraudulently” collect levies on Haitian telephone calls and money transfers that were supposed to be ring-fenced to pay for education.

It was alleged that the cash was diverted to pay for the lifestyle of some of the politicians.

Jurisdiction

Digicel, which was also accused of price fixing in the case, has always denied any wrongdoing. The other defendants in the dismissed case included politicians, such as Mr Martelly, Digicel’s smaller rival, Natcom, and three money-transfer companies including Western Union.

Last month, a New York court dismissed the case after it agreed with an application from the defendants that court had no jurisdiction to hear it under the “act of state doctrine”, which holds that a US court may not adjudge the acts of a foreign sovereign government.

The defendants have since filed with the US court of appeals, which last week asked for much of their paperwork to be resubmitted due to omissions and errors.