Haiti: Late-Comer Corporations Lining Up for Contracts

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Reconnaissance Group joins the 'Haiti Summit'
by Anthony Fenton
Further to my article the other day about the upcoming 'Haiti Summit' for private contractors, NGO's, and officialdom, the co-organizer, Global Investment Summits, has updated its website to list another sponsor. In addition to Sabre International, a UK-based mercenary company, the Ireland-based Reconnaisance Group has been added. Whereas Sabre's website lists no experience in Haiti, Reconnaissance has a 'Haiti Operations Centre' page:

"Reconnaissance operates a full Operations Centre in order to support our clients managing the security threat in Haiti. We have been operating in Haiti for over 4 years and have a unique knowledge of the country and operating in the environment."

Their speciality is mitigating risk and providing security for their clients who are "conducting effective business in hostile environments."
[For complete article reference links, please see original at Web of Democracy here.]

On February 10th, Reconnaissance placed an ad for someone to run "business development" in Haiti, "To develop and grow the client and revenue base of Reconnaissance Group," offering a $6,000/month salary.

An article in the Waterford News & Star, days after the earthquake, mentions how Reconnaissance's offices are "based in the Digicel complex," Haiti's leading mobile telephone operator, which is owned by Irish billionaire Denis O'brien. Digicel's complex was one of the few buildings to withstand the earthquake. It is unknown whether Digicel will be represented at the IPOS/GIS Haiti Summit in Miami, or if O'brien himself will attend.

-  Of related interest, the construction company which built the Digicel complex is GDG Beton et Construction, who also boast the Canadian and U.S. Embassies among their clients (both structures also survived the quake intact), and, more generally to having "either provided the concrete for or handled the construction of most of the major construction projects in Haiti in the last 9 years." The Vice-President of GDG is Patrick Delatour, a Harvard educated architect, the Haitian Minister responsible for overseeing billions in reconstruction and "a key government voice on the rebuilding of Port-au-Prince and the remaking of Haiti." Describing Delatour's emerging role in the reconstruction process as including a "familiarity with the United States and other foreign stakeholders," the Washington Post omits his personal role in the country's "first and... only Ready Mix concrete supplier throughout Haiti...not only the primary supplier of concrete in Haiti, the company has also emerged as the country's second largest equipment rental company." While Delatour's expertise will surely be needed, hopefully some measures will be taken to preclude what, on the surface, appears to be a conflict of interest.

Update: Only a few hours after we posted this, USA Today reports, 'Haiti reconstruction official owns share of concrete company':

"Haiti's top reconstruction planning official owns part of the country's largest concrete company, which stands to reap major gains from the coming wave of international rebuilding aid. Patrick Delatour, Haiti's tourism minister, leads a commission that has been crafting plans to rebuild Port au Prince and other earthquake-devastated areas. He acknowledged he is 5% owner of GDG Concrete and Construction, which he started in 2000 with his cousin. The company, which calls itself Haiti's only supplier of ready-mixed concrete, helped construct the U.S. Embassy and several other major buildings in Port-au-Prince, it says on its website. "I own a 5% share of that particular company, and in the long term, when that company continues to grow, it is obvious that I will have my interest protected in there," Delatour said in an interview from Haiti. "It is normal. I don't see any conflict of interest." [USA Today]

- This just in via Canadian mercenary company, GardaWorld, who "announced today it has donated to World Concern, a non-profit humanitarian organization, logistics services and use of cargo aircraft from its fleet to deliver relief supplies to World Concern's staff of 100 people working in Haiti to assist in recovering from the recent earthquake." Garda has extensive operations in Iraq, which include guarding the assets of at least one Canadian oil company operating in the Kurdistan region.   

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