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Dominica's latest diplomatic passport scandal could hurt region
Published on January 28, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

monfared_skerrit2.jpg
Alireza Monfared (L) and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica

By Ken Richards

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Concern has been expressed about the possible negative impact that the latest diplomatic passport scandal in which Dominica has found itself embroiled can have on the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries.

An Iranian man accused of helping to embezzle billions of dollars while the country evaded international oil sanctions has been arrested by Interpol after a lengthy international manhunt.

Alireza Monfared, 43, is accused of involvement in Iran’s biggest-ever corruption scandal, working alongside tycoon Babak Zanjani who was sentenced to death last year for pocketing $2.8 billion while helping the country bypass sanctions.

Monfared, described as a Dominica diplomat, is reported to have had two Dominican passports, a diplomatic one and another obtained earlier through Roseau’s economic citizenship programme.

The head of Iran’s international police department is quoted as having said that Monfared was extradited via Havana and Moscow before arriving in Tehran on Sunday.

He is reported to have been arrested in the Dominican Republic.

Regional broadcaster, Vincentian Jerry George said this latest scandal can hurt not only Dominica but the OECS and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

“A Dominican passport is sold, yes, but it affects me, Jerry George in St Vincent on two levels, because firstly, the passport I carry is an OECS document. I am part of the OECS therefore whatever happens in Dominica happens to me, whatever Dominica exposes I am exposed to and secondly it is a CARICOM passport, it is going to affect all of us now or in the future. There are pictures with this man and he is with the prime minister of Dominica. According to what is said it seems they are in some kind of business together. Is this really, really, the level to which our Caribbean leadership has come to?” George said.

A statement from the government of Dominica said Monfared became a Dominican citizen in 2014, and was found to be a respected businessman with substantial business ties in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

According to the statement, the Iranian demonstrated a great desire to be of assistance in promoting Dominica and sourcing business and investment opportunities on behalf of Dominica in that part of the world.

The government said due diligence investigation was conducted in 2014 in respect of him by an internationally recognized US due diligence firm as required by the relevant regulations.

The statement said too that Monfared’s due diligence report showed no areas of concern in any jurisdiction or country including Iran, and he passed all other security checks.

The Roosevelt Skerrit-led administration said Monfared’s diplomatic passport was recalled and cancelled and all official ties with him were severed effective one year ago on January 20, 2016, upon receiving information that he may be a person of interest to authorities.

The opposition United Workers Party said its leader Lennox Linton has been vindicated, after Linton was harshly criticized for his comments on the CBS 60 Minutes programme Passports for Sale that a number of fraudsters and people of ill-repute had been made diplomats by the Dominica Labour party administration.

Republished with permission of West Indies News Network
 
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Comments:

Louis Bernard:

When, OH When will this criminal enterprise that passes for a government, and led by Roosevelt Skerrit stop feeding the people these lies.

The statement conveniently left out the fact that this alleged criminal, lived in Dominica as Mr. Skerrett’s neighbor in Morne Daniel up until September, 2016, which time International Law Enforcement agencies had sought him.

Dominicans were never told that this man was a member of the Dominica Diplomatic Core. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition in parliament asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the parliament in October of 2016 to provide to the House a list of all persons who diplomats, all persons who are in possession of Dominica Diplomatic Passports, how many have been revoked when they were revoked, as well as the reason for the revocation.

The Foreign Minister Hon. Francine Baron, told the parliament, the Dominican People, and the world that they did not have the right to that information.

It is no surprise then that allegations are that Monfared was been protected from arrest, and that the Skerrit Administration denied request by the Iranian authorities for his extradition.

The question now before us is "What exactly is it going to take the OECS, and/or CARICOM to address the scandalous wanton, and reckless behavior of the DLP administration, led by Roosevelt Skerrit? We must now question the role, function, and purpose of these regional organizations that cost the poor and getting poorer tax payers of the region.

If there be any reasoned voice among these alleged leaders, let it be heard now, for it is the silence of good and reasonable persons that allows evil to flourish.

Herbert Volney :

The only issue to be determined here is whether the Dominica Prime Minister confirmed the appointment of the diplomat at a time when he knew or ought to have known that he was a man of interest to law enforcement authorities. The Prime Minister has addressed this issue and assured all that reliable due diligence inquiries had established that the subject was not of interest and in accordance with statutory process the status issued. The Prime Minister went on to say that no sooner had the diplomat become classified of interest to law enforcement the diplomatic status was cancelled. If this is so, it seems to me that the Prime Minister did no wrong. Mr Linton and those seeking to suggest that the facts are otherwise must now point to evidence to suggest otherwise, or shut up for their continued submission would be pure political mischief and damaging to Dominica.


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