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Antigua-Barbuda to publish new list of current diplomatic passport holders
Published on July 15, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- In response to questions regarding the individuals recently listed as holders of diplomatic passports, Antigua and Barbuda prime minister, Gaston Browne, has clarified that the list released this week represented the names of everyone issued such a passport in recent years, regardless of whether or not their passports had since expired or been revoked.

A new list of all current holders will be issued next week following a review by Cabinet of which individuals remain qualified for diplomatic passports under the new policy in this respect announced earlier this year.

Among the questionable names on the list released this week is Alex Nain Saab Moran, who, Univision reported, has a “dark and controversial past related to the drug trade”.

According to a document obtained by Univision, the US visa for one of Saab's children was denied last year under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the US government to deny entry to a person's child if that child has benefited from his father's illegal activity and knew or ought to know that such a benefit was illegal.

A source close to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) told Univision that the agency is investigating Saab's US money laundering business.

Another name on the list is Julia Vivi Wang, a Chinese-born US citizen who was charged by US federal prosecutors last year with paying at least $500,000 in bribes to buy diplomatic positions with the government of Antigua and Barbuda.

The bribe was “solicited and facilitated” by Antigua and Barbuda’s permanent representative to the United Nations, John W. Ashe, who served as General Assembly president for one year starting in September 2013, according to a criminal complaint filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said that Ashe, now deceased, had participated in a scheme in which he was paid more than $1.3 million in bribes, some of which was used to pay off one or more Antiguan officials, including the then prime minister of Antigua, Baldwin Spencer, who is not identified by name in the court documents.

Browne said that Wang’s diplomatic passport has since been revoked.

Also on the list is another controversial figure, Anthony Bailey, described as “Special Envoy to the EU”, who was also given a knighthood by the Antigua and Barbuda government in late 2014; an honour that Browne said last year was agreed by the former administration, apparently on the strength of the promised donations.

However, according to Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, charitable projects in Antigua announced by Bailey and his “dear friend” Baroness Patricia Scotland, now secretary-general of the Commonwealth, are still awaiting nearly half of the promised US$1.6 million.

Browne also indicated that the knighthood awarded to Bailey was under “review”. Two of Bailey’s friends who were knighted with him in Antigua have already had their honours revoked pending an investigation.

Browne is understood to have referred the matter to the local Honours Committee but the governor general, Sir Rodney Williams, who chairs the committee, has reportedly resisted any such review and, one year later, little or no action has been taken.

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Antigua and Barbuda Governor General Sir Rodney Williams (L) and Anthony Bailey

Williams is said to have been the beneficiary of “wining and dining” in London and a paid trip to Rome to meet the pope organised by Bailey. Williams is married to Sandra Scotland-Williams, a cousin of Baroness Scotland.

To the dismay of the Foreign Office and the Royal Household, the Antigua honour has been used by Bailey to masquerade as a British knight and officials at Buckingham Palace have reportedly written to him on more than one occasion warning him to stop.

According to Browne, Bailey’s position as special envoy and his diplomatic status will be reviewed next week in the context of the new policies.
 
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