The rule of thumb in any good investigation is to follow the money. For Haitian police investigating the assassination of their president on July 7, the trail of money goes in part through a little-known Ecuadorian émigré and a private lender who lives in Broward County.
In the two weeks since the shocking assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, police in Haiti have repeatedly flashed the image of Walter Veintemilla and the name of his company, Worldwide Capital Lending Group, during press conferences. The money for the assassination plot, they alleged, flowed through Veintemilla, a resident of Weston, and his Miramar-based company.
The name of the company appears to have global reach. But it basically operates like a private lender, the kind of business that deals with people who can’t easily get a bank loan or don’t want the scrutiny that comes with it. 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 discount or a commission.
His attorney, Robert Nicholson, responded this week to a series of questions from a team of reporters at the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and the McClatchy Washington Bureau, saying Veintemilla had negotiated a loan to fund what he believed be a plan to replace the Haitian 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 US attorney. “At no time was there any discussion or suggestion of a plan involving a violent overthrow of the Haitian government or the assassination of the president. “
All documents from the Veintemilla company regarding loans to those named in the Haitian investigation have been turned over to US federal agencies, Nicholson said, noting that his client had not been questioned by US law enforcement on Tuesday. .
Veintemilla, he said, only negotiated two loans to two Southern Floridians caught up in the monumental events on the island. They are: Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-American doctor from Boynton Beach, who has been arrested and is in detention in Haiti, and CTU Security based in Doral and its president, Antonio “Tony” Intriago, a Venezuelan emigrant who is on the radar of Haitian and American investigators but is not in detention.
Veintemilla, 53, moved from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to the Miami area with his family when he was little. His career has been in the South Florida private lending industry, primarily in the hectic mortgage world. Courts show Veintemilla has been 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 business and has made inroads into forex and other businesses, according to records from the Florida Division of Corporations.
Nothing in public records suggests that Veintemilla had the financial means to fund a large military-style operation to topple and kill a sitting president. More than 20 people have been arrested in Haiti, the majority of them Colombian commandos who said they had been hired by the CTU and had lived in Haiti from around May until the assassination of the president. The cost of their transportation, food and shelter, as well as their training, would likely have reached millions of dollars.
In fact, days before the assassination, Sanon phoned a confidante to tell her that his Colombian bodyguards had tried to extort him and abandoned him. A few days later, they were involved in the assassination, as was Sanon. A Miami Herald article on Sunday revealed that the Haitian president had desperately tried to bring his security guards to his residence, fearing the fate that ultimately befell him.
Nicholson, the lawyer for the small lender, said his client became involved in Haitian affairs after granting an unspecified loan in July 2020 to Intriago and CTU Security. Through Intriago, Veintemilla later met the charismatic Haitian-American Sanon, an evangelical pastor and physician in Haiti who dreamed of leading his impoverished island to prosperity.
Sanon considered himself a transitional president of the Caribbean nation and had circulated a petition with supporters’ signatures to replace Moses. A copy of Sanon’s proclamation was obtained from the Miami Herald. The signatories include a number of well-known Protestant pastors who deny supporting Sanon’s candidacy.
In this case, the same signatories appear on a letter in May sent to an acting deputy secretary of state, Julie Chung. The letter supported Sanon’s desire to lead a transition in Haiti. State Department officials claim that neither Chung nor anyone else has supported Sanon’s aspirations.
The July 2020 loan to Intriago appears to be the connective tissue that reunited Veintemilla with Sanon, currently under arrest in Haiti, and Doral-based Intriago, himself a small security trainer and equipment seller who did not has not been seen or heard from in public since the first week of July. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture confirmed that the agency was investigating Intriago, which was licensed to provide security and carry a firearm.
Intriago referred Sanon to Worldwide Capital because the Haitian doctor was looking for a loan. This introduction led to multiple meetings in South Florida, Nicholson said, regarding funding strategies for two purposes: infrastructure projects in Haiti and Sanon’s political aspirations in Haiti.
Veintemilla and Sanon have been involved in efforts to help build solar power and other small electrical installations in Haiti, run by a U.S. company, according to Nicholson. The first project was to be in Jacmel, according to a draft contract obtained by the Herald. This city is important because it is the hometown of another Haitian-American from Broward County arrested in Haiti, James Solages, 35.
Until his resignation in April, Solages was director of maintenance at Lantana at a posh retirement home. But he aspired to become mayor of Jacmel, even leading a small charity focused on the coastal city. A photo posted by Haitian authorities shows Solages present for some of the meetings with Sanon, Veintemilla and others who have listened to his plans for a new Haiti.
Nicholson said Veintemilla and Sanon were passionate about helping the Haitian people and carrying out infrastructure projects in poor areas of the country lacking electricity, 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 of replacing Moïse as interim president and modernizing the country. Veintemilla, Intriago, and others have met Sanon on several occasions, including meetings this spring: a rally on May 12 at the Tower Club in Fort Lauderdale, which overlooks the city and the Atlantic Ocean, and another gathering in a building. of offices in Doral.
Photos taken at the May 12 meeting showing Veintemilla providing a PowerPoint presentation are now used by Haitian police to describe 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 hire Intriago’s CTU company to train the members. Other expenses included travel for the Haitian doctor and related costs. The proposed budget was $ 860,000.
Calling that amount a “wish list,” Nicholson said Veintemilla’s role was to fund most of the spending by forming an investor pool. Veintemilla raised $ 172,000 from these investors, according to his lawyer. These investors, all from the United States, were not made aware of the nature of the investment for the loan, he said. Veintemilla did not invest his own money, he added.
Separately, Intriago was also supposed to provide funding for Sanon’s security efforts. It is not known how much money has been collected by Intriago or from whom. The overall plan called for Sanon to reimburse lenders and investors with Haitian assets after the doctor took the interim presidency.
Veintemillia believed, perhaps naively, that 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 knew of an alleged assassination plot,” Nicholson told the Herald. “The discussions that took place with Dr Sanon all focused on research to improve living conditions in Haiti through public works projects and the improvement of political, security and social conditions in Haiti.