Canada Monday announced that it will freeze any local assets of three high-profile Haitian businessmen accusing them of supporting the country’s armed gangs in the furtherance of political instability in the French-speaking country.
“Canada has reason to believe these individuals are using their status as high-profile members of the economic elite in Haiti to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs, including through money laundering and other acts of corruption,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.
It named the businessmen as Gilbert Bigio, chairman of Haitian industrial conglomerate GB Group, as well as Reynold Deeb and Sherif Abdallah.
The new sanctions are the latest by Canada on prominent political and businesspeople in the country “intended to put pressure on those responsible for the ongoing violence and instability in Haiti.”
Last week, lawyers representing former prime minister, Jean Henry Céant wrote to the Canadian government seeking an urgent meeting to discuss its decision to impose sanctions on their client “in response to the egregious conduct of Haitian political elites who provide illicit financial and operational support to armed gangs”.
In the letter addressed to Foreign Affairs Minister, Mélanie Joly and other senior Canadian government officials, the Montreal-based Gélinas, Leclerc,Teolis law firm their client “denies any allegation against him that could have led to your recommendation.
Canada and the United States have over the past few months placed sanctions on a number of Haitian politicians, including Senate president Joseph Lambert, former Senate president, Louri Latortue, accusing them of abusing their “public position by participating in corrupt activity that undermined the integrity of Haiti’s government..
Canada and Washington have also claimed that there is “credible information” of their involvement in “a gross violation of human rights, namely an extrajudicial killing”.
They have all denied the accusations and have called on the two countries to provide the evidence to support the allegations.
The European Union (EU) has placed “restrictive measures” on Jimmy Cherizier alias “Barbecue” one of the most influential gang leaders in Haiti who leads a coalition of Haitian gangs known as “G9 family and allies”.
Haitian gangs in September created a humanitarian crisis by blocking the entrance to a fuel terminal, leading to shortages of gasoline and diesel that halted most economic activity just as the country reported a renewed outbreak of cholera.