St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas (L) with Dr Arthur Porter
By Caribbean News Now contributor
MONTREAL, Canada -- What a Canadian police investigator described last week as “the biggest corruption fraud in the history of Canada” was allegedly carried out by the holder of St Kitts and Nevis economic citizenship, who reportedly split a $22.5 million payout with an associate.
Dr Arthur Porter, the man behind the controversial $1.3 billion McGill University super-hospital project in Montreal, not only acquired a St Kitts and Nevis passport obtained through the country’s citizenship by investment programme but also reportedly persuaded Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas to appoint him honourary consul to The Bahamas, complete with diplomatic passport, in 2012 – after reports of his questionable activities surfaced in late 2011.
Porter, an oncologist who has practiced in a number of Caribbean islands, is also the former head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, Canada’s federal spy review board, from which he was forced to resign after his business dealings began to be exposed by Canadian media in November 2011. He also stepped down as chief executive officer of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) the following month.
Porter was born in Sierra Leone and he is said to have both Canadian and American citizenship, as well as a St Kitts and Nevis passport.
On February 27, 2013, an arrest warrant was issued by Canadian authorities in relation to the McGill University Health Centre corruption scandal. Porter and his wife Pamela Mattock Porter were detained by Interpol agents in Panama on May 27, 2013. He faces charges in Canada of fraud, conspiracy to commit government fraud, abuse of trust, secret commissions and laundering the proceeds of a crime. Porter's wife is facing charges of laundering the proceeds of a crime and for conspiracy.
Porter and Mattock are reportedly fighting extradition from Panama to Canada. Porter is claiming diplomatic immunity on the basis that he was travelling via Panama on a diplomatic mission to Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone. However, the Sierra Leone government says he is a goodwill ambassador and thus has no diplomatic immunity.
Porter is one of a growing list of dubious individuals that have purchased diplomatic and other passports issued by St Kitts and Nevis that include:
• Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodori, who is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. In 2011, the United States government filed a corruption charge against him, seized US$70 million of his assets. In July 2012, the French police filed a warrant for his arrest, and one month later they seized his mansion in Paris, as well as his cars.
• Rustem Tursunbayev, who is wanted for embezzlement in Kazakhstan.
• Alireza Moghadam, an Iranian, entered Canada with a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport, claiming untruthfully that he was there to meet with officials, including the Canadian prime minister. Moghadam reportedly told Canadian immigration officials that he paid $1 million for his diplomatic passport.
• Godswill Obot Akpabio, the governor of Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria, who reportedly also carries a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport. Akpabio has been accused of orchestrating secret and silent killings, assassinations and unprecedented abuse of power.
• Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, who is facing trial in Nigeria for obtaining money by false pretences, forgery, using false documents and conspiring to fraudulently obtain money from the Nigerian government. A judge in Nigeria refused him bail in October 2012 because of Ogunbambo’s criminal past and his “crooked history of illicitly obtaining international passports”, and with different identities.
• Pourya Nayebi, Houshang Hosseinpour and Hushang Farsoudeh, all Iranian holders of St Kitts and Nevis economic citizenship, are at the centre of a US Treasury Department investigation into companies in Switzerland and elsewhere that are evading US sanctions against Iran.
The St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme offers citizenship to a non-citizen who either invests in designated real estate with a value of at least US$400,000 or contributes US$250,000 to the St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation.
According to Douglas, the programme rakes in more than $100 million annually.
However, on May 20, 2014, the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory to financial institutions stating that foreign individuals are abusing the St Kitts and Nevis programme for the purpose of engaging in illicit financial activity.
Specifically, FinCEN believes that illicit actors are abusing the programme to acquire citizenship in order to mask their identity and geographic background for the purpose of evading US or international sanctions or engaging in other financial crime.