There are major allegations of corruption that involved political figures in the Haitian government and a Digicel funded government tax on education program.
Digicel Haiti, at the time was under the leadership of Damion Blackburn, now CEO of NewCo, which financed the campaign of Michel Martelly who later became President of Haiti. Digicel Haiti also financed the government tax on education program called the National Fund for Education(FNE), which many have stated appeared to be a case of bribery and corruption. It is believed by many that the fall of Digicel’s main competitor, Viola, was due to questionable contributions and government collusion. Digicel and the government of Haiti were placed under investigation by the US Department of Justice for foreign corrupt practices.
Sources note that the program and the use of the funds lacked transparency and was fledged with fraud. In addition, there was no accurate account of the amount of funds collected. The Haitian Government reported that only $16 million was collected, while a national activist group called Defend Haiti, stated that records show that $136 million was collected for the fund.
The apparent contributions and relationship between Digicel and the Haitian Government drew many questions. Several civic organizations questioned the relationship and inquired as to whether the relationship existed to provide Digicel with carte blanche to implement unfair consumer pricing practices. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office, in response to the growing complaints, commented that he was unaware that the government of Haiti was colluding with Digicel to ban voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) services, such as Whatsapp, magicjack, skype and others.
Nonetheless, shortly thereafter, Digicel, in an egregious move, banned VoIP services in Haiti. The reason given was so that the government of Haiti could amass tons of money through a global phone tax program, ostensibly to fund the National Education Fund in Haiti (FNE). But, the cloak of secrecy kept the public from knowing about the type and the amount of the tax collected and for what purposes.
The Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes of Haiti declared that the National Fund for Education (FNE), despite all its social legitimacy, was illegal and use of the funds were outside of the law. The CSCCA report in 2013 says, in short, the FNE was illegally set up and a law had not passed for the issuance of the tax. Additionally, it was illegally managed and the funds were not being passed through the Treasury. This is on top of a Senate investigation that found more than 40% of the funds had been used for an office purchased at Haiti’s telecom regulator, Conatel…? This brings to mind the eerily favorable rulings being received by NewCo, from the local regulator to utilize the other telco provider’s network?!
Today, Mr. Damion Blackburn has found his way to the Bahamas and was recently named CEO of the Cable Bahamas Mobile Company, NeWCo. Mr. Blackburn’s former place of work, Digicel Haiti, was faced with accusations of corrupt practices that has many Bahamians scratching their heads! What is equally insulting is that amidst the high rate of unemployment and recent layoffs, Cable Bahamas seems to be on a shopping spree for foreign talent. News flash Cable Bahamas/NewCO, we have many qualified Bahamians who could have been appointed CEO of NewCo. But no, NewCo chooses to appoint a NON Bahamian with a track record of questionable practices in other developing countries in the Caribbean!
DAMION BLACKBURN YOU CANNOT RUN FROM YOUR PAST, AND YOU HAVE A LOT TO EXPLAIN TO THE BAHAMAS ON WHY ARE YOU TRULY HERE!
IS THE BAHAMAS GOING TO BECOME “DIGICEL-IZED” AND RUINED LIKE HAITI?