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Canada on Monday announced sanctions against several wealthy Haitians for “alleged active financing and support of armed gangs” that have helped plunge the Caribbean nation into turmoil.
Included in the new round of sanctions is Haiti’s only billionaire, Gilbert Bigio, as well as businessmen Reynold Deeb and Sherif Abdallah.
“Canada has reason to believe that these individuals are using their status as high-profile members of the economic elite in Haiti to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs, including through money laundering and other acts of corruption,” said the Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.
They must “stop providing money and weapons to criminal gangs in Haiti,” he added.
The sanctions will freeze any assets the men may have in Canada, as well as ban any dealings with them.
Ottawa imposed similar sanctions in recent months against high-ranking Haitian officials over their alleged ties to organized crime.
It also provided aid to fight cholera outbreaks and vehicles to the Haitian police.
Haiti, North America’s poorest country, has been mired for years in an economic, security and political crisis exacerbated by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last year and the growing influence of gangs.
The current instability, according to Ottawa, was fueled by armed gangs terrorizing the population and blocking the delivery of essential services and humanitarian aid.