Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit (L) and Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal
By Caribbean News Now contributor
LONDON, England -- Dominican-born member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, may not be able to escape connections to the “murky financial links between Cherie Blair and the corrupt dictator of a tax haven with an appalling record on human rights” that were revealed in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail
, on Thursday.
The widely-read newspaper disclosed that
“a law firm founded by [former British prime minister] Tony Blair’s wife, who trumpets her human rights work, earned more than £2,000 [US$2,800] a day representing Abdulla Yameen, the autocratic president of the Maldives”.
According to the Daily Mail
, “In a highly irregular move, the firm was paid more than £200,000 [US$280,000] of its fee by a suspected conman and terrorist now wanted by Interpol. As a result, Mrs Blair’s company, Omnia Strategy, could become the subject of an anti-corruption investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and US government.”
Baroness Scotland, a British citizen who was born in Dominica, from whence she departed as a small child, was elected last November as a “Caribbean” candidate for the post of Commonwealth secretary-general, which she will take up in April.
But, her financial links to the Maldives dictatorship and to Cherie Blair’s law firm, now potentially subject to an anti-corruption investigation, will follow her into the Commonwealth post, to the embarrassment of her principal Caribbean backers, and the British government of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Until very recently, Scotland declared in the register of “interests” at the British House of Lords that she is a member of the Advisory Board of Omnia Strategy, the Cherie Blair firm now revealed to have accepted questionable payments.
Additionally, Scotland was also deeply financially connected to Abdulla Yameen, the Maldives president. In 2012, she received US$108,000 in state funds “to give a legal opinion” against the same Commonwealth Secretariat she has now been elected to head, when it wanted to investigate human rights abuses by the Maldives leader.
The 2012 Audit Report of the Maldives government revealed that she was paid another US$71,700. The auditor stated that this “bonus” payment violated Article 96 (c) of the constitution, the Public Finance Act, and public finance regulations.
But, as pointed out by J.J. Robinson, the former editor of the only independent, English-language news service in the Maldives, “Waheed’s government was past caring”. So, presumably, was Baroness Scotland.
Robinson’s undisputed revelations are contained in his book, The Maldives: Islamic Republic Tropical Autocracy
, published in 2015 by Hurst and Company, London.
The links between Cherie Blair and Scotland are numerous and interwoven. Blair took Scotland as a senior adviser into a so-called “global security and intelligence firm” called Arcanum Global, which is operated by Ron Wahid, an American citizen, born in Bangladesh, and chairman and CEO of RJI Capital Services Ltd, with corporate headquarters in Zurich (Switzerland).
Wahid is also chairman and CEO of RJI's subsidiary Arcanum Global, which has links to Israeli intelligence through the parent RJI office in Tel-Aviv. In January 2011, Meir Dagan, who headed the Israeli intelligence service Mossad for eight years before retiring, joined Arcanum Global as a part-time consultant.
Arcanum describes itself as “… a global intelligence firm that provides a host of bespoke and tailored strategic intelligence products to governmental entities and the private sector across a range of industries."
Arcanum has been mentioned in connection with a number of questionable activities, notably, a plan to kidnap Alma Shalabayeva, the wife of Kazakhstani opposition politician Mukhtar Ablyazov, and her daughter in Rome.
Scotland, in having to reveal her financial interests to the House of Lords, named Wahid as one of main contributors to her campaign for the post of Commonwealth secretary general.
However, although she was ostensibly the candidate of the prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, he has never offered the region an explanation of why a company interested in getting access to security and intelligence information about countries and industries worldwide would be so keen to finance the campaign of his candidate.
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