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In Haiti President-elect denies alleged money laundering

Moise blamed the suspicions that have swirled around him for months on a smear campaign.

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Elected President Jovenel Moise of PHTK political party, gives a speech, in the commune of Petion Ville, in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on January 3, 2017 play

Elected President Jovenel Moise of PHTK political party, gives a speech, in the commune of Petion Ville, in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on January 3, 2017

(AFP/File)

Haiti's President-elect Jovenel Moise on Wednesday dismissed accusations that he had laundered money as an "invention," after spending hours answering questions from an investigating judge.

Set to take power in the impoverished Caribbean nation next month, Moise blamed the suspicions that have swirled around him for months on a smear campaign by his political enemies.

Echoing one of his campaign slogans on Wednesday, he called investigators' files on him "an invention by some, like many files they have invented to prevent the people from getting food on their plates and money in their pockets."

Moise, a former banana exporter who has never held political office, survived the country's year-and-a-half electoral nightmare to win the election in November.

Although electoral authorities declared him the first-round winner earlier this month, opposition lawmakers are demanding that the investigation finish before he assumes office on February 7.

The investigation was launched in 2013 as a routine bank-regulation procedure. The Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF) forwarded a secret report about the inquiry to prosecutors last summer.

However, the investigating judge took no action until four opposition senators recently demanded information about the findings.

Moise spoke to the judge in a Port-au-Prince court on Wednesday, unaccompanied by lawyers.

"I went in all humility to see the judge so he could ask questions for four hours, and I answered him for four hours," he told reporters.

"Certain people should not be allowed to exploit the law, to decide that the only way to engage in politics is to accuse others of lying," he added. Moise said that his presidency would be characterized by "order and discipline."

UCREF, an independent state agency, held an unusual news conference last week to assert its impartiality.

"No one has been allowed to exploit UCREF since I became general director," said the organization's chief, Sonel Jean-Francois.

It is unclear whether the judge leading the secret investigation will issue his conclusions before Moise takes office.

The case reflects the country's ongoing political divisions.

Moise's three main rivals in the election contested the results in court, to no avail; they have refused to concede.

Some members of parliament are threatening to boycott next month's inauguration ceremony.

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