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United States v. Esquenazi

752 F.3d 912 (2014)

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United States v. Esquenazi

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

752 F.3d 912 (2014)

Facts

Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez (defendants) were co-owners of Terra Telecommunications Corporation (Terra). Terra purchased unused phone minutes from foreign vendors and sold the minutes in the United States. One of Terra’s primary vendors was Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (Teleco). Teleco was formed in Haiti in 1968. The Haitian government granted Teleco a monopoly on telecommunications services, gave Teleco tax advantages, and appointed Teleco’s director general and two of its board members. In the 1970s, the National Bank of Haiti obtained 97 percent ownership of Teleco, after which the Haitian government appointed all of Teleco’s board members. Although there was no definitive documentation declaring Teleco to be a public entity, Teleco was widely perceived by the government and the general public as being a public administration. In October 2001, Terra owed Teleco over $400,000. Terra arranged to have its bill reduced by offering bribes to Teleco’s director of international relations. Eventually, the United States Internal Revenue Service investigated the bribes. Esquenazi and Rodriguez were convicted of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for bribing an instrumentality of a foreign government. Esquenazi and Rodriguez appealed, arguing that the district court’s jury instructions were in error because they suggested that a finding that Teleco was an instrumentality could be based solely on evidence that it was a state-owned company providing services to the public.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Martin, J.)

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