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Haiti's President-elect Questioned on Money-laundering Allegations

FILE - Haiti's President-elect Jovenel Moise returns from the Cabinet d'instruction to the Public Prosecutor's Office in Port-au-Prince, Jan. 25, 2017.

Haiti's president-elect, after appearing at a lengthy hearing to address allegations of money laundering, insisted that those accusations were politically motivated and that the country's "justice system will function without bias" under his administration.

Jovenel Moise submitted to four hours of questioning Wednesday in a Port-au-Prince court. The businessman appeared without an attorney in the closed-door session with Judge Bredy Fabien.

At a news conference afterward, Moise said he voluntarily went to court to demonstrate that "no one is above the law."

The president-elect, scheduled to take office February 7, said he would not allow the nation's justice system or financial watchdog to be co-opted for personal attacks.

"No one will be able to use the justice system and the [Central] Financial Intelligence Agency for personal vendetta," Moise said. "Those institutions exist to bring order where it is needed. They were not created to be used by politicians to attack others."

The money-laundering inquiry began in 2013, and Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF) prosecutors gave a secret report about it to prosecutors last summer, according to multiple news sources.

Moise repeatedly has denied the accusations. His attorney, Camille Leblanc, told VOA that the financial agency had made a mistake and that he had sent the court documents that would clear his client.

Moise, a former banana exporter representing the Bald Heads Party, was elected in November with nearly 56 percent of the vote. Three other candidates challenged the results unsuccessfully.

Last week, UCREF organized a press conference to emphasize its impartiality. Its chief, Sonel Jean-Francois, said, "No one has been allowed to exploit UCREF since I became general director."