Miami Herald

Police: Weston man financed Moïse killing

- BY JAY WEAVER, KEVIN G. HALL, JACQUELINE CHARLES AND ANTONIO MARIA DELGADO jweaver@miamiheral­ khall@mcclatchyd­ jcharles@miamiheral­ adelgado@elnuevoher­

Police in Haiti investigat­ing the death of President Jovenel Moïse keep flashing images of Walter Veintemill­a, alleging he helped finance the killing. But his lawyer insists he had nothing to do with the assassinat­ion.

The rule of thumb in any good investigat­ion is to follow the money. For Haitian police investigat­ing the July 7 assassinat­ion of their president, the money trail partially runs through a littleknow­n Ecuadorian émigré and private lender who lives in Broward County.

In the two weeks since the shocking murder of President Jovenel Moïse, police in Haiti have repeatedly during news conference­s flashed the image of Walter Veintemill­a and the name of his company, Worldwide Capital Lending Group. The money for the assassinat­ion plot, they’ve alleged, ran through Veintemill­a, a

Weston resident, and his Miramar-based firm.

The company’s name sounds like it has global reach. But it basically operates as a private party lender, the kind of company that deals with people who can’t easily get a bank loan or who don’t want the scrutiny that comes with one. Veintemill­a is a loan broker; he gets private investors to lend their money on the promise of a high rate of return and he takes a cut or commission.

His lawyer, Robert Nicholson, this week fielded questions from a reporting team from the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and the McClatchy Washington Bureau, saying Veintemill­a brokered a loan to fund what he believed to be a plan to replace Haiti’s president, Moïse, with an interim leader in a peaceful transition of power.

“My client had nothing to do with the assassinat­ion,” said Nicholson, a Fort Lauderdale private attorney and former assistant U.S. attorney. “At no point was there any discussion or suggestion of a plan involving a violent overthrow of the Haitian government or the assassinat­ion of the president.”

Both Veintemill­a and his company, Worldwide Capital, have turned over loan documents to U.S. federal agencies pertaining to people named in the Haitian investigat­ion, said Nicholson, noting that his client has met with U.S. law enforcemen­t.

Veintemill­a, he said, did no more than broker two loans to one South Floridian and his security company, which are caught up in the monumental events on the island.

The loans were made to Doral-based CTU Security and its president, Antonio “Tony” Intriago, a Venezuelan émigré who is on the radar of Haitian and U.S. investigat­ors but is not in custody. The second loan to CTU was for the benefit of Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-American doctor who is from Boynton Beach and is in custody in Haiti.

Veintemill­a, 53, left Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and settled in the

Miami area with his family when he was a boy. His career has been in South Florida’s private lending field, mostly in the roughand-tumble world of mortgage lending. Courts show Veintemill­a was involved in at least 10 lawsuits since 2006, eight as a defendant and the other two as a plaintiff trying to evict a tenant.

Beyond private lending, Veintemill­a also runs an insurance brokerage and had forays into foreignexc­hange and other businesses, according to records on file with the Florida Division of Corporatio­ns.

There is nothing in the public record to suggest Veintemill­a had the financial wherewitha­l to fund a large military-style operation to topple and kill a president. More than 20 people have been arrested in Haiti, the majority of them Colombian ex-commandos who said they were hired by CTU and were living in Haiti from about May until the assassinat­ion of the president on July 7. The cost of transporti­ng them, feeding and housing them, along with providing training, would likely have run into the millions of dollars.

In fact, days before the assassinat­ion, Sanon phoned a confidante to say his Colombian bodyguards tried to extort him and abandoned him. Days later, they were implicated in the assassinat­ion, as was Sanon. A Miami Herald story Sunday revealed that the Haitian president desperatel­y tried to get his security detail to his residence, fearing he would meet the fate that ultimately befell him.

Nicholson, the lawyer for the small-time lender, said his client got tangled up in Haitian affairs after providing a loan for an unspecifie­d amount in July 2020 to Intriago and CTU Security. Through Intriago, Veintemill­a later met the charismati­c Haitian-American Sanon, an evangelica­l pastor and doctor who dreamed of leading his impoverish­ed nation to prosperity.

Sanon envisioned himself as a transition­al president and had been circulatin­g a petition with signatures of supporters to replace Moïse. A copy of Sanon’s proclamati­on was obtained by the Miami Herald. The signatorie­s include a number of wellknown Protestant pastors

who deny supporting Sanon’s bid.

As it happened, the same signatorie­s are listed on a May letter sent to an acting assistant secretary of state, Julie Chung. The letter supported Sanon’s desire to lead a transition in Haiti. State Department officials say neither Chung nor anyone else provided any support for Sanon’s aspiration­s.

The July 2020 loan to Intriago appears to be the connective tissue that brought Veintemill­a together with Sanon and the Doral-based Intriago, himself a small-time security trainer and equipment seller who has not been seen or heard from in public since the first week of July.

A spokespers­on for the Florida Department of Agricultur­e and Consumer Services confirmed that the agency was investigat­ing Intriago, who had a license to provide security and carry a firearm.

Intriago referred Sanon to Worldwide Capital because the physician was seeking financial support. This introducti­on led to meetings in South Florida, said Nicholson, regarding funding strategies for two purposes: infrastruc­ture projects in Haiti and Sanon’s political aspiration­s in Haiti.

Both Veintemill­a and Sanon were involved in efforts to help build solarenerg­y and other small power facilities in Haiti, led by a U.S. company, according to Nicholson. The first project was to be in Jacmel, according to a proposed contract obtained by the Herald. That city is important because it is the hometown of another Haitian American in Broward County arrested in Haiti, 35-year-old James Solages.

Until quitting in April, Solages was a maintenanc­e director in Lantana at a ritzy senior-living center. But he had aspiration­s of becoming the mayor of Jacmel, even running a small charity focused on the coastal city.

A photo displayed by Haitian authoritie­s shows Solages present for some of the meetings with Sanon, Veintemill­a and others who listened to his plans for a new Haiti.

Nicholson said that both Veintemill­a and Sanon were passionate about helping the Haitian people and bringing infrastruc­ture projects to poor areas of the country lacking power, water and other basic needs. It was Sanon who brought the infrastruc­ture opportunit­y in Haiti to Veintemill­a’s

attention, Nicholson said.

At the same time, Veintemill­a also learned more about Sanon’s political goal to replace Moïse as an interim president and modernize the country. Veintemill­a, Intriago and others met with Sanon on multiple occasions, including meetings this spring: one gathering on May 12 at the Tower Club, which overlooks Fort Lauderdale’s skyline and the Atlantic Ocean, and another gathering at an office building in Doral.

Photos taken at the May 12 meeting showing Veintemill­a providing a PowerPoint presentati­on are now used by Haitian police in describing the Weston man as a person of interest.

Sanon’s political plan called for a security team to protect him in his quest to replace the Haitian president and to hire Intriago’s CTU firm to train the members. Other expenses included the Haitian physician’s travel and related costs. The proposed budget was a whopping $860,000.

Calling that amount a “wish list,” Nicholson said Veintemill­a’s role was to finance most of the expenses by putting together a group of investors. Veintemill­a raised $172,000 from those investors,

according to his lawyer. Those investors, all from the United States, were not told of the nature of the investment for the loan to CTU’s Intriago for Sanon’s security services, he said.

Veintemill­a did not put in any of his own money, he added.

Separately, Intriago was also supposed to come up with some funding for Sanon’s security effort. It is not clear how much money was raised by Intriago or from whom. The overall plan called for Sanon to pay back the lenders and investors with Haitian assets after the physician took over as interim president.

Veintemill­ia believed the entire political effort led by Sanon was meant to be a peaceful transition of power in Haiti, Nicholson said.

“Neither Worldwide Capital nor Mr. Veintemill­a had knowledge of any alleged assassinat­ion plot,” Nicholson told the Herald. “The discussion­s that took place with Dr. Sanon all related to seeking to improve the living conditions in Haiti through public works projects and improving the political, safety and social conditions in Haiti.”

 ?? Haiti National Police ?? Haiti National Police show off evidence seized in their investigat­ion into the assassinat­ion of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haiti National Police Haiti National Police show off evidence seized in their investigat­ion into the assassinat­ion of President Jovenel Moïse.

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