During their years in power, the Duvaliers led a kleptocracy - stealing from the people to maintain extravagant lifestyles. They did not do so alone. Being anti-communist, they were long supported by the United States while Swiss banks hid millions of dollars from the Duvaliers and those close to them. In 2002, Duvalier funds in Geneva, Vaud and Zurich were frozen. In 2009, the Federal Office of Justice announced the money would be returned to Haiti although this was overturned the following year. These funds, which belong to the Haitian people, have yet to be returned. Doing so is long overdue.
Given poor access to and accountability of financial institutions in Haiti, much has been written about the potential benefits of mobile money. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Haitian Government are planning 2,000 mobile money transfers over the next three months in support of housing repairs. The funds do not change hands, the possibilities for corruption are reduced, and earthquake survivors can get started rebuilding their homes. The full press release follows.
Below is an article by Jacqueline Charles on a joint USAID/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grant established to promote mobile phone banking in Haiti. In Haiti, use of mobile phones has become widespread. For far too many, the only options for saving money have been to: (1) travel to urban centers; (2) utilize the services of a close by but questionable cooperative or Caisse Populaire (Popular Bank), or (3) to keep hard earned funds under the mattress. This grant could create quick and convenient access to financial services from reputable institutions. You can read more about this welcome initiative at the BMGF website.