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THE CONMAN, THE DICTATOR, & THE CIA FILES

Daily Telegraph Magazine, 20 June 1998

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    The terror wreaked by the Macoutes appalled even the most tolerant of Duvalier's allies.  By 1962 the US had cut off aid and President Kennedy had sworn to destroy the dictator even though Haiti - 80 kilometres off the south-eastern tip of Cuba - was seen as an essential bulwark in the fight against communism creeping throughout the Caribbean and Central America.  Most foreign investors had already abandoned the country along with the educated local elite and the expat community of writers, artists and adventurers.  As a result, by 1964 anyone who landed in Haiti with the air of prosperity and the right connections got a royal welcome.
    According to Jolicoeur, Papa Doc immediately took to Fayed with an uncharacteristic warmth and zeal.  'Papa Doc was spellbound, blinded by Fayed.'  The rest or the Duvaliers followed suit, won over by Fayed's charm and the flowers he would send to the National Palace every day, even when he was out of the country.
    Part of Fayed's mystique was the aristocratic Middle Eastern pedigree he concocted for himself.  When he arrived, Fayed was indeed travelling on a Kuwaiti passport, according to Dabinovic.  Witnesses told DTI investigators that Fayed introduced himself as a sheikh while in Haiti.  Contracts he entered into there give his name as 'Sheikh Mohamed Fayed'.  Fayed, himself, initially denied to the DTI that he was ever referred to as a sheikh.  Later, when reminded of Haitian newspaper articles referring to him as such, he explained that sheikh was an honorific used by Haitians because of his Middle Eastern roots.
    In any case Haitian authorities were not in a position to quibble, for no one around the National Palace had even heard of Kuwait at the time.  Only when a breathless article about the oil wealth and exotic allure of the desert kingdom was located in copy of a Reader's Digest did they know where to look for it on a map.
    But Fayed didn't devote all his energy to Duvalier during that June visit.  He took time off from wooing the dictator to schmooze with other foreigners and, it appears, scheme.  On June 20, he and a half dozen others went for dinner at the home of George de Mohrenschildt and his wife, Jeanne, according to various detailed and secret CIA dispatches.  The agency was keeping close tabs on the couple and for good reason - they were under what was termed 'a full-scale, intelligence-type investigation' by both the CIA and FBI who were investigating the assassination or Kennedy by Oswald the previous November: the de Mohrenschildts were both good friends of Oswald.
    Despite the de Mohrenschildts' rapidly diminishing reputation, in June 1964, they threw a party that pulled in important guests such as Clémard Joseph Charles and Wlodzimierz Galicki, the Polish commercial attaché.  So when Fayed showed up, too, he caught the CIA's eye.  According to an unnamed CIA informant who attended the party and another two nights later, 'Fayed stated that he was in Haiti as an official guest of the Haitian government and that his purpose for being here was to explore the oil producing and investment possibilities,' said the CIA memo.  'He has slightly Negroid features and might easily pass as a member of Haitian mulatto elite.  He strikes one as being friendly and evil at the same time.'
    Fayed's June visit lasted only two weeks.  By the time he left on June 17, he seemed to have finished the groundwork that would allow him to quickly become one of the most influential businessmen in the country when he returned later that summer.
    Indeed on his return in August he settled into a house that Duvalier put at his disposal, the former home of Clément Barbot, the chief of Haiti's secret police when Duvalier was first elected and later the top Macoute.  The story behind Barbot and the empty house could have provided a note of caution for Fayed.  When Barbot had stepped away from the Duvalier line, he was imprisoned and later murdered.
    Lt Woolley Gaillard, who was assigned to protect Fayed recalls, 'I slept upstairs above him.'  The house was very big and in tropical tradition, it had a full staff and a pool.  'We would all swim together on Sundays.'  Fayed would sometimes go out alone at night and often receive dinner guests.  'Clémard Joseph Charles was constantly with him.  He was his good friend...  de Mohrenschildt would come to supper sometimes.  Not very often but certainly quite regularly.  He would come with his wife.'
    Fayed's first business in Haiti was oil.  In November 1962, however, Duvalier had signed a contract with American businessman Charles C. Valentine that gave his company a monopoly control over pretty much everything to do with oil in Haiti.  Valentine had engaged to prospect for oil as well as build at least one refinery and petrochemical plant, either for domestically produced crude or fuel brought in from elsewhere.  In return, the contract gave Valentine Petroleum shelter from all taxes and duties, a series of land concessions as well as the exclusive right to import, export and sell all petroleum products, refined or crude.  In the first arrangement of its kind in Haiti the deal was guaranteed by the US Agency for International Development and was to last a minimum of 10 years. 
    But less than two years later, Duvalier abruptly cancelled Valentine's contract and signed it over to Fayed.  The modifications were few but they made an already sweet deal even sweeter.  Valentine, under the old contract, had had to put $50,000 in a deposit account as a gesture of goodwill - Fayed did not have to make any deposit.  Valentine's contract ran for only 10 years, Fayed's ran for 50.  The changes were announced in a special issue of Haiti's official gazette, Le Moniteur, dated August 28, 1964, and were effective from that date.  But that issue of Le Moniteur was not made public for more than eight weeks.  In the interval, Valentine continued work on the project even though the contract was now secretly Fayed's.

    When the details of the contract transfer finally came out, Valentine and two associates were arrested at El Rancho, Haiti's most exclusive hotel, and given three hours to pack and leave the country.  In Papa Doc's Haiti Valentine had little recourse.  But in the US it was different - there was the USAID guarantee.  Several years later, Valentine successfully claimed $327,304 from the development agency, a sum USAID was itself able to extract from the Haitian government along with $4,396 in interest charges.
    Fayed, however, was interested in much more than just oil.  By this time, as part of Duvalier's offensive against the regional elites, international trading from any coastal town other than Port-au-Prince was banned.  The capital city's port was thus the hub around which the economy revolved and, as such, an essential operation run by the state through the Autorité Portuaire Nationale (APN).  That is until Duvalier decided that Fayed could do a better job of it.  On September 18, Le Moniteur published another numéro extraordinaire, announcing that port operations had been handed over to Fayed in return for a contract to invest $5 million 'consolidating, enlarging and modernising' its facilities within 30 years.  'The Autorité Portuaire Nationale was the property of the state and all of a sudden by presidential decree it was given by Duvalier to Fayed,' remembers Benito Prato, the APN's accountant at the time.

Mohamed Fayed's deal with Papa Doc is announced in the Haiti newspaper "Le Moniteur"

Le Moniteur of 18 September 1964 announces Fayed's contract with Haiti's harbour authority

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