Libyan FM under investigation over granting diplomatic passport to foreigner

TRIPOLI, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Libya's national defense and security committee of the eastern-based parliament on Tuesday called for an urgent investigation into allegations about the Tripoli-based UN-backed Foreign Minister granting a diplomatic passport to a foreigner.

abdeljawad-belhaj-592x296-1466068765 (1).jpg

Tarek al-Jaroushi, a member of the committee, added that the defense committee called on the general intelligence agency and the attorney general to start an urgent investigation into this case, plus "officially order cancelling of passports issued to foreigners, and circulate the cancellation of passports to the ports."

Tarek Shoaib, deputy foreign minister of the government of national accord, accused earlier foreign minister, Mohamed Sayala, of granting diplomatic passports to foreigners, including the Syrian wife of the Vice President of the Libyan-Arab bank Mohamed Abdel-Jawad.

Sayala responded, saying that the passport was renewed "because it was issued during the time of former regime by order of the previous leader (Muammar Gaddafi) ... It was also renewed by the successive governments that came after the February uprising."

Libya remains politically divided despite signing a UN-sponsored peace agreement and appointment of a unity government.

NABU opens case to check lawfulness of receiving diplomatic passport by MP Rozenblat

The lawfulness of grounds for receiving a diplomatic passport by MP Boryslav Rozenblat that was seized by detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) on October 19, 2017, will be checked. A separate criminal case has been opened.

A lawmaker from President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc Borys Rozenblat listens his lawyer in Kyiv's Solomyansky Court on July 18.

A lawmaker from President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc Borys Rozenblat listens his lawyer in Kyiv's Solomyansky Court on July 18.

The lawfulness of grounds for receiving a diplomatic passport by MP Boryslav Rozenblat that was seized by detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) on October 19, 2017, will be checked. A separate criminal case has been opened.

“The information about the start of the investigation was placed to the unified public register of pretrial investigations by NABU detectives on October 20. The preliminary charges could be brought under Part 1 of Article 366 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (forgery in office),” the press service of NABU said on Friday.

According to investigators, officials from the secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada acting in collusion with Rozenblat placed deliberately untrue information to official documents helping Rozenblat to leave the country.

“In particular, officials of the inter-parliamentary communications department of the secretariat of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada sent a letter to the department of the consular service of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry with a request to issue a diplomatic passport to MP Boryslav Rosenblat, who allegedly was to go to Israel to study opportunities for cooperation between Ukraine and the Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the Association of Producers of Israel from October 18 through October 22, 2017,” the bureau said.

The NABU said that the diplomatic passport was issued to Rozenblat after receiving this letter. Rozenblat used this passport for personal purposes on October 19 seeking to travel to Germany.

“The data, indicating the possible entry of false information into the official documents, were established by NABU detectives during the investigation into the facts of taking a bribe for the assistance to a foreign company in amber mining in Ukraine (the so-called ‘amber case’),” the bureau said.

Fugitives’ Vanuatu Diplomatic Passports Allegedly Valid

Fugitives’ Vanuatu Diplomatic Passports Allegedly Valid Saken ‘brothers’ citizenship in Vanuatu questionable

check scam ukraine passport.jpg

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 28, 2013) – Phocea fugitive Pascal Vu Anh Quan Saken and his "brother" Charles Henry Saken, whom Interpol linked with drugs and arms smuggling, have legal and valid citizenship and passports and they are Vanuatu diplomats appointed by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Documents sighted by Daily Post show that Charles Henry Saken became a Vanuatu citizen on April 16, 2012 (after allegedly spending less than 10 years in Vanuatu as required under Constitution).

Following a Council of Ministers decision he was appointed as Minister Counselor of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), on July 12, 2012.Pascal Vu Anh Quan Saken became a Vanuatu citizen on November 5, 2010. He was appointed Special Envoy of the Republic of Vanuatu to Lima, Peru effective as of May 30, 2012.

In his CV details Pascal Anh Quan named his place of birth as Boulevard, Efate. Charles Henry had his as Neuilly Sur Seine. Contrary to Quan’s claim, Daily Post was reliably informed both birth certificates of the brothers were issued in Europe.

[PIR editor’s note: Vanuatu’s government, meanwhile, has announced that it will not allow any "shortcuts" to citizenship, and the Citizenship Commission is undergoing reforms in order to correct past issues. New commission members will be appointed by Prime Minister Sato Kilman sometime in the first quarter of 2013. Elsewhere, Kilman’s advisor, Richard Kaltongga, has said the PM’s office has denied involvement in Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot’s trip to Papua New Guinea during which he met with the Sakens.]

The controversial pairs’ acquiring of Vanuatu citizenship enabled them to acquire the green Vanuatu passports after the Passport Office (PO) acted on information from the Citizenship office and MoFA.

Both Sakens’ Passports were issued on July 16, 2012. It was around July 14, 2012 that Pascal Anh Quan arrived in Vanuatu waters on board the Phocea. But between July 14-17 he failed to report the arrival of Phocea to the Director of Customs within 24 hours as required and it was here that it was alleged three Government ministers board the Mega yacht and handed the passports over.

Acting Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Arthur Caulton has questioned Foreign Affairs how Phocea fugitive Saken and his brother still possess Vanuatu diplomatic passports when the PM instructed the cancellation of the passports last year.

Daily Post understands this may be because of a request from the Prime Minister’s office (in 2012) that their nominations as Vanuatu diplomats were yet to be confirmed to the representing countries.

But on the heels of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alfred Carlot’s, controversial trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Foreign Affairs said the Sakens’ two diplomatic passports are valid and genuine as their nominations have been accepted.

This came after PNG Police confiscated their passports as the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre is well aware of the above in particular Interpol on the Sakens’ involvement in drugs and arms.

To revoke a passport now, the Vanuatu Police Service Commission has to ask Foreign Affairs who made the appointment to remove the appointment so the PO can cancel the passport-issuing and cancelling a passport can be done easily but it is something which must be done according to the legal provisions as the status of a person is associated with a passport.

A person who is stripped of his passport is stateless or referred to as an alien which is an international crime and the individuals can sue the governments concerned to incur a huge liability, according to information obtained by Daily Post from government sources.

Since 2010 the PO issued 40 diplomatic passports to foreigners, in 2012 only six diplomatic passports were issued-two of which are acquired by the Sakens, Daily Post was told.

For a person to acquire a diplomatic Passport he or she must meet the requirements listed in Schedule 1 and 2 of the Passport Act, they must have a role and status bestowed by the Vanuatu Government. Their status and roles are given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When Foreign Affairs appoints and gives them a role and status they are entitle to a diplomatic passport. Once Foreign Affairs ask the Passport Office it runs checks whether or not the individual have a status if they are align with the list in the schedule 1 & 2 in the Passport Act.

The PO had to receive a letter of request from Foreign Affairs before the office can print a diplomatic passport, the conditions required included a complete passport form application, photo, letter of appointment, letter of request from Foreign Affairs and Identity details before they will be issued with a diplomatic passport.

Once complied with the PO prints out the passports and gives them to Foreign Affairs who deliver it to the recipients.

In October 2012 minister Carlot told Daily Post he never appointed Pascal Quan Saken ambassador to Peru and USA and Department of Foreign Affairs officials verified that documents on the appointment produced by then secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Richard Kaltongga were forged- without Foreign Affairs letterheads.

This prompted minister Carlot to ask Police to investigate Mr. Kaltongga.

Can police enter an embassy? A guide

The Foreign Office says it can revoke an embassy's diplomatic status but Ecuador claims this is only if there is a public threat

 Ecuador's embassy in London – what would the implications be if the police went in?  Photograph:Pete Riches/Demotix/Corbis

 Ecuador's embassy in London – what would the implications be if the police went in? Photograph:Pete Riches/Demotix/Corbis

The standoff between Britain and Ecuador has raised the prospect of a major diplomatic incident if British police force an entry into the building.

Ecuadorian officials say that any such decision would be an outrageous breach of international law. British officials insist that if they did so, it would be within British law.

Under international law, security forces across the world are not allowed to enter an embassy without the express permission of the ambassador – even though the embassy remains the territory of the host nation. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations codified the "rule of inviolability", which all nations observe because their own diplomatic missions are otherwise at risk elsewhere.

However, the Foreign Office told Ecuador that it had the power to revoke the embassy's diplomatic status under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. This act was passed by Parliament in the wake of the Libyan embassy crisis three years before, when PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead from inside the embassy.

Such a step might set a dangerous precedent by encouraging other governments to justify entering embassies to arrest dissidents seeking diplomatic asylum.

If Ecuador challenged a revocation, ministers would have to argue at the high court that the mission, by harbouring Assange, had itself fallen foul of international law. The government used the power in 1988 to deal with squatters in the Cambodian embassy.

The 1961 convention stresses that missions must respect local laws and not interfere in the host nation's internal affairs. The Metropolitan police says it has the power and right to arrest Assange for breach of bail if he steps outside the embassy.They have also delivered a letter to the embassy demanding that Assange surrender himself.

A legal source at the Ecuador embassy claimed yesterday that the 1987 Act was established to stop a major threat such as terrorism or a nuclear threat.

"The law was established after the shooting of a police officer and would be invoked if the public are under threat. In this case, no one could argue that Assange's presence in this embassy is a threat to the British public," the source said.

Armenian Foreign Ministry revealed origin of Robson’s diplomatic passport

The Ministry insists that the thief in law Ruben Tatulyan received the diplomatic passport on legal grounds.
The Ministry insists that the thief in law Ruben Tatulyan received the diplomatic passport on legal grounds.

The Ministry insists that the thief in law Ruben Tatulyan received the diplomatic passport on legal grounds.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the issue of a diplomatic passport for the Sochi businessman Ruben Tatulyan, known in criminal circles under the nickname Robson. As the ministry told EADaily, Tatulyan received the document on legal grounds, “for activities aimed at the economic development of the country and the attraction of new investments.”

As previously reported by the CrimeRussia, Robson was detained at a thieves’ convention in the Czech Republic along with such thieves in law as Gayoz Zviadadze (Giya Kutaissky), Gela Kardava (Gela), and his recently crowned ‘godson’ and a resident of Moscow Dmitry Zabrodin. After the detention, all ‘convention’ participants were placed in a temporary detention facility.

It is noteworthy that Tatulyan himself strongly refutes his ties with the criminal world, credited to him ‘without reason’ by the media. At the same time, according to the CrimeRussia’s information, it was Robson who sponsored the ‘meeting’ in Karlovy Vary, during which two new thieves in law were to be ‘crowned.’

To get to the Czech Republic, Tatulyan used his Armenian diplomatic passport, and Gela Kardava presented papers in the name of Oleg Golomb during detention; by the way, it was these documents that the thief in law had recently shown to Ukrainian police officers. The Czech security forces suspect that Kardava uses false documents, and if their suspicions are justified, then the thief in law will face a criminal charge.

For the record, it is not the first incident, when Tatulyan have used the fake diplomatic ID. For example, in late February 2016, our editors’ office came into possession of a surveillance footage from the Sochi airport, which showed Robson flagrantly violating the traffic rules and exhibiting the behavior of an inveterate road bully.

The video shows two black tinted Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens driving along the first line of the airport. The way onto the first line of the airport complex is made against traffic and in detour of road barriers. Judging by license plates, one of the cars is assigned to the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation.

Leaving the airport, Tatulyan insulted the security officers and then drove the barrier off. In response to the airport employee's remarks, Tatulyan dangled his ambassadorial documents. As reported by the CrimeRussia’s source, in the past, the crime lord claimed the title of the Honorary Consul of Armenia in Russia, but could not get it. However, the recent events in Karlovy Vary indicate the opposite. The Armenian Embassy in Russia has provided no response to the CrimeRussia’s request.

Government may recall all diplomatic passports after disappearance of diplomat

In the wake of speculation that one of Antigua & Barbuda’s economic envoys and former diplomatic passport holder may have been arrested in China, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he is prepared to recall all diplomatic passports.

Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua (right) speaking with Prime Minister Gaston Browne (left) and others after a ceremony in the Office of the Prime Minister in June 2015.  (Photo source: freedomskn.com)

Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua (right) speaking with Prime Minister Gaston Browne (left) and others after a ceremony in the Office of the Prime Minister in June 2015. (Photo source: freedomskn.com)

The New York Times reported that 45-year-old Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was “spirited away” by Chinese police from his hotel room at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong and is in custody on mainland China. Xiao has been missing since last week Friday.

On Wednesday, Browne told OBSERVER media, “From all indication, he never utilised his appointment as an envoy to commit any crime. We are still unclear as to whether it was an abduction or arrest, and if it is the latter, what crime, if any, was committed.”

He nonetheless assured that “if he is eventually charged with any wrongdoing” then “potential action involves revocation of his status of economic envoy”. The prime minister said that changes will be made to the system for issuing diplomatic passports.

“The changes are likely to include the recall of all diplomatic passports and re-issue with biometric passports under a new policy. The new policy would also include publication of the list of diplomatic passports issued,” he said.

According to Browne, “International partners” have already received a list of Antigua & Barbuda’s diplomats.

UPDATE (with cancelled passport photo): Monfared’s Dominican diplomatic passport revoked in 2016 – Astaphan

A Dominican diplomatic passport issued to Iranian, Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, was revoked in 2016, Senior Counsel and advisor to the government, Tony Astaphan, has told Dominica News Online.

Monfared was arrested on allegations that he was involved in Iran’s biggest corruption scandal

Monfared was arrested on allegations that he was involved in Iran’s biggest corruption scandal

A Dominican diplomatic passport issued to Iranian, Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, was revoked in 2016, Senior Counsel and advisor to the government, Tony Astaphan, has told Dominica News Online.

His revelation came after news broke that Monfared was arrested and extradited to Iran on allegations that he was involved in that middle eastern country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal.

DNO made several attempts to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confirm whether Monfared actually held a Dominican diplomatic passport at the time of his arrest or whether he ever held a Dominican diplomatic passport, but was unsuccessful.

DNO then contacted Astaphan, who, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Skerrit, informed us that the diplomatic passport was revoked on January 20, 2016. He said this was done as part of a review process of existing appointments.

He also said a decision was made after the matter involving Nigerian ex-government minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to appoint a consultant to assist with the process of making appointments to Dominica’s diplomatic positions and since then, no new appointments have been made. Astaphan said the process continues.

Alison-Madueke was appointed as ambassador and commissioner for trade and investment for Dominica but was arrested in Britain on suspicions of bribery and money laundering in 2015. So far no charges have been brought against her.

Monfared was involved in the controversial My Dominica Trade House website which back in 2015 said it was a company based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with three local companies in Dominica.

Reports indicate that he was issued Dominican diplomatic passport number, DP0000426, in March 2o15.

DNO was told that both Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron are out of state and will issue a formal response to the matter upon their return. 

Photo showing cancelled passport

Photo showing cancelled passport

Diplomatic passport forgery

High-profile scandal brings to fore lax security measures

Previously arrested Red Passport Sellers:  Shah and Yadav

Previously arrested Red Passport Sellers:  Shah and Yadav

Feb 10, 2011-In a sensational revelation, passport racketeers in the country who are thriving under the protection of corrupt power centres have been found to have forged even diplomatic (red) passports of two sitting lawmakers to send people to foreign lands.

The matter involving two lawmakers of the Constituent Assembly (CA)—Gayatri Shah and Bishwanath Prasad Yadav—came to the fore with the arrest of a Nepali man and woman in the Abu Dhabi Immigration. The duo was trying to fly to Australia with forged red passports.

Replacing photos of the prospective clients, the racketeers had managed to procure red-passports, their citizenship certificates and CA identity cards issued in the names of lawmakers Shah and Yadav and attempted to supply two persons to Australia for a hefty sum of money.

One man—identified as Prithivi Chantyal—who was caught in Abu Dhabi told the authorities that he had given Rs. 16 million to Kathmandu-based agents Manoj Karki and Ashish Sherpa to ensure visa to travel to the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Schengen countries on forged diplomatic passports.

The revelation has brought the two lawmakers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that had issued the passports and the Department of Immigration that allowed the two persons to leave the country under scanner.

It is unclear whether the lawmakers were hand-in-glove with the racketeers or the criminals had procured the passports through other channels. Speculation is rife that the ministry’s employees could be behind the scandal.

Last year, police had arrested non-gazetted officer Bachhu Ram KC for his nexus with passport racketeers.    

Bharat Raj Poudel, Joint-secretary at the ministry, said investigation is underway. He also did not rule out ministry officials’ involvement in the scandal. The ministry has also asked the CA to furnish details about the forgery of lawmakers’ passports.

The copies of the passports, made available to the Post, show that the passport books were registered on July 25 and August 12, 2008 when the ministry was still based in Shital Niwas, and only the pictures of the lawmakers were replaced with the two clients.

It shows the ministry’s stamps were used in the passports to send the two men as lawmakers.

An application written on the letter pad of the foreign ministry was dispatched to the Australian High Commission in New Delhi requesting it to issue visa to the “parliamentarians”.

The racketeers had also presented an invitation letter that was allegedly sent by the Human Rights and Democracy Nepali Forum in Australia inviting the lawmakers to attend a programme on Jan. 18. The lawmakers, however, on their part claimed they were not traveling during that period and that the Foreign Ministry wrote no letters on their behalf. “I have absolutely no idea how they forged my passport.

I came to know of this very recently,” Shah, a leader of the Nepali Janata Dal, said. Yadav of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal also said he was unaware of the forgery.

Making a mockery of law, the two persons who were sent to Kathmandu from Abu Dhabi were let off the hook by immigration officials at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). The immigration at the TIA has no record of these forged passport bearers.

Asked about the lax security, Khada Nanda Dhakal, Chief of the immigration at the TIA, said the officials could have treated the two persons as VIPs thinking they were genuine lawmakers.

“Those holding red passports are usually not scanned as all the immigration processes are done by their aides,” Dhakal said.

Sources say TIA officials may have been involved in the high-profile scandal.

Authorities concerned have shown no urgency to launch probe panels, while CA Secretariat Spokesperson Mukunda Sharma, and the police said investigation is underway.

Who are the holders of Dominica's diplomatic passports?

Here is a list of 24 names provided to The Sun by a foreign affairs expert of non-Dominicans who may have received diplomatic passports under Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's regime

Some of the names are as disturbing as they are questionable. Vladimir Antonov, Rudolph King, Roman Lakschin, Diezani Allison-Madueke, Ng Lap Seng. These are among a list of 24 names provided to The Sun by a foreign affairs expert of non-Dominicans who have received diplomatic passports under Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's regime.

It is not entirely clear whether it is a complete list or how many are under suspicion. However, there is no doubt some are of dubious character.

Rudolph King, for example, who was appointed as ambassador to Bahrain, was jailed in the United States for filing a false claim with the American Internal Revenue Service.

Vladimir Antonov, a Russian whose personal wealth was estimated at over EC$800 million and who was appointed as a special envoy, is a fugitive on the run after a court in Britain ruled to have him extradited to Lithuania to face fraud charges. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former Nigerian minister who was appointed as ambassador and commissioner for trade and investment, was arrested in Britain on suspicions of bribery and money laundering, while Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire from Macau who was appointed as ambassador at large, has been accused of a litany of unsavoury deeds, and has been held in the US on bribery charges.

"This gets very disturbing," perennial government critic Athie Martin told The Sun.

The list could not be verified by the ministry of foreign affairs since, at the last sitting of parliament, the minister of foreign affairs Francine Baron declined an opposition request to name foreigners who are holders of Dominican diplomatic passports. She contended it would not be in the interest of the country's foreign relations.

"This is in stark contraction to the recent statement by the prime minister that his government was the most transparent in the Caribbean," Martin said of the refusal. "That makes it more worrying."

The expert who provided The Sun with the list felt insulted by Baron's stand.

"It is totally disrespectful of the Dominican people. The foreign minister lost all her credibility by echoing Skeritt's approach of conducting foreign relations in secret," the official, who spoke to The Sun on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive position he holds, said.

"They are able to do this because Dominica does not have a Foreign Relations Act." Such an Act, the source said, would require parliament to approve all diplomatic appointees, and the absence of the Act allows government to abuse the appointment of diplomatic representatives.

"It is indeed a travesty that the Dominican people do not even know who represents them abroad. Furthermore, the government feels no obligation whatsoever to inform parliament of the numerous persons they have provided with passports. And, they have appointed many foreigners of questionable character to diplomatic representation roles and also issued them and others not in representational roles with diplomatic passports."

To Martin, the refusal to provide the information invites speculation. Maybe there is something to hide, he said, or the Citizenship by Investment Programme might not be doing well and there has been a change of focus to the sale of diplomatic passports.

The other diplomatic passport holders include Susan Oldie and Christopher Thomson of the Cayman Islands; Eric Torner; Roman Lakschin in favour of whom Dominica filed at case against Switzerland at the International Court of Justice in 2006 to restore his diplomatic credentials in Switzerland; Serge de Thibault de Boesinghe; Bobby Wahi; Timothy Cornwall of the UK as special envoy to Qatar and Iran; Leroy Parris, the Barbadian at the head of the failed CLICO Insurance and who is fighting a court battle to have an EC$6 million accounting unfrozen; Francesco Corallo; Bobby Jones; David Shiu; Frantisek Savov; Didier Vidal; Claude Skalawski; Graeme Christopher Thomson; Jonathan Brown; Alireza Zibahalat Monfared; Rebecca Chang, the daughter of Grace Tung; Paolli Zampoli and Christos Vardkos.

 

St. Kitts Diplomatic Scandal Exploding: U.S. Government Investigating

Basseterre, St.Kitts (Friday November 22nd 2013):-The deepening scandal surrounding the sale of Diplomatic Passports which erupted when Iranian national Alireza Moghadam entered Canada a few months ago on a St. Kitts & Nevis Diplomatic Passport is widening with substantial risk to the citizens of the beautiful Twin Island Federation. 

At a large public meeting of the UNITED Movement at Parray’s St. Peters, the Team Unity leader Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris told the huge crowd that Canada and the USA had threatened VISA reforms adverse to St. Kitts & Nevis had the illegitimate Douglas regime not suspend the participation of Iranians and Afghans in the federation’s Citizenship by Investment Program.

“Our good name is tarnished, our relationship besmirched by the mis-leadership and recklessness of Denzil Douglas. It is not just that our Citizenship by Investment Program must change, we want a change of this illegitimate Douglas government.”


The Former Minister of Foreigne Affairs ,Dr. Harris, pledged greater transparency and accountability of the Citizenship by Investment Program under a UNITY government and he offered to redeem the country’s good name. Dr. Harris said “Douglas has done enough harm to the country’s finances having bankrupt the country, undermined the economy and reduced it to a state where it is offering a minimum wage job as a blessing to young people. Minimum wage keeps the young, talented people among the disaffected poor. Our young people deserve better and UNITY will deliver decent full time and sustainable jobs for the people of St. Kitts & Nevis.”


The Popular and Charismatic UNITY Leader, informed hundreds of nationals in attendance and thousands listening via radio and online broadcasts with hundreds more viewing via video stream, that officials of the U.S government are concerned over the citizenship by investment program and in particular the due diligence and scrutiny that is applied. “They were here on Wednesday and Thursday in meetings with government officials such as Cabinet Secretary Joseph Edmeade. This fiasco relating to the reckless sale of diplomatic passports will not go away soon,” said Dr. Harris.

St.Kitts-Nevis Citizens Now Require Visas To Enter Canada As Fallout From Iranian With SKN Diplomatic Passport Scandal Continues

The fallout continues from the now infamous St.Kitts-Nevis Diplomat Passport scandal which came to light in 2013 when an Iranian businessman tried to enter the Canadian border with a St.Kitts-Nevis Diplomatic passport which he told Canadian authorities he bought for $1 million from officials in St.Kitts.

The Iranian made the Canadian border authorities suspicious when he declared that he was there to see the Canadian Prime Minister. When the authorities contacted the Canadian Embassy they stated that they knew of no such visit. After being questioned the Iranian revealed that he had paid $1 million for the diplomatic St.Kitts-Nevis Passport he was travelling on.

The revelation created an explosion of heightened attention and scrutiny of the St.Kitts-Nevis Citizenship by Investment or Passport Sales Programme.
The Canadians issued a statement expressing concern about the SKN Passport Sales programme and in particular the decision to remove place of birth from the passports. They further told authourities in St.Kitts-Nevis that they needed to quickly plug all the security holes that they had found in the programme.


Today over a year later the Canadian Government has issued a Notice which declares that Citizens of St.Kitts-Nevis will no longer have there long standing Visa Free Access privilege to Canada and are now required to obtain a Visa in order to enter Canada.
The Sun News Canada stated in a story regarding the development that The Canadian government imposed the visa requirements due to national security concerns.


They went on to state that “A Canadian government source said authorities have evidence that people with ties to terrorist organizations and organized crime are using the easily obtained St. Kitts passport to avoid immigration screening.


Canadian authorities are concerned that people who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible to enter Canada for security reasons could change their names and sneak into Canada using St. Kitts passports.”


The Sun News Report further stated that a Government Source indicated to them that “the majority of St. Kitts-Nevis passport buyers are from Syria and Iran and that “questionable individuals” have received St. Kitts-Nevis passports.”


Over the last 2 years an almost Who’s Who of International Criminals and suspected Terrorist Organisation associates have gotten their hands on St.Kitts-Nevis Passports.


Here is a snapshot of the kinds of characters that have purchased diplomatic and other passports issued by St Kitts and Nevis, drawing serious warnings from the Canadian and US governments, among others:

• Dr Arthur Porter, the man behind what a Canadian police investigator described as “the biggest corruption fraud in the history of Canada” and who is currently fighting extradition from Panama.

• 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.

Also: “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.” 


The outrage by Citizens is already palpable and has been directed at the Minority Regime of Dr. Denzil Douglas who continue to remain in office despite the filing of a motion of no confidence by the Majority of MP’s in the Parliament since December of 2012. The PM has lost favour with not only the majority of MP’s but also the citizens of the country who according to recent polls are 72% in favour of a new government led by Dr. Timothy Harris, the Leader of the Tri-Party Alliance known as Team UNITY.


Dr. Harris was a former Senior Minister who along with former Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor exited the Douglas led Labour Administration citing Douglas’ corrupt leadership among many other issues as their reasons for leaving the administration after some 17 years.
This is a huge blow to the citizens and the development of the small Twin Island Nation. Canada is home to thousands of St.Kitts-Nevis Nationals and according to reports close to 1000 Kittitians and Nevisians visit Canada annually.


A Canadian government official said that the restrictions should be seen as an important signal that protecting the safety and security of Canada and Canadians is a top priority for the government there.

 

A Warning, That Dominica’s Latest Diplomatic Passport Scandal Could Hurt Region

St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Concern is being expressed about the possible negative impact that the latest diplomatic passport scandal Dominica has found itself embroiled in can have on the 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 says this latest scandal can hurt not only Dominica but the OECS and 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?”

A statement from the Government of Dominica says 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 says due diligence investigation was conducted in 2014 in respect of him by an internationally recognized U.S. due diligence firm as required by the relevant regulations. 

The statement says 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 says 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 says its leader Lennox Linton has been vindicated, after Linton was harshly criticized for his comments on the CBS Sixty 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.

‘Greed’ blamed after Canada punishes St. Kitts and Nevis over its buy-a-passport program

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis had harsh words for the excesses of the buy-a-passport program that got his Caribbean country on Canada’s bad list.

Foreign passport-buyers remain a critical part of the St. Kitts and Nevis economy.

Foreign passport-buyers remain a critical part of the St. Kitts and Nevis economy.

It was “all because one man was caught up with his greed and hubris and self-interest,” Prime Minister Tim Harris recently told his country’s parliament, as reported by the St. Kitts and Nevis Observer.

Anybody with $250,000 could buy a St. Kitts and Nevis passport without so much as visiting the island nation. The country even started selling diplomatic credentials, most notably for Iranian businessman Alizera Moghadam, who entered Canada with a diplomatic passport he claims to have purchased for $1 million.

The United States soon warned that “illicit actors” were freely roaming the globe under the St. Kitts and Nevis name. Canada then upped the ante by ending a much-cherished visa waiver for visiting Kittitians and Nevisians.

Former PM Denzil Douglas. “All he wanted was money, money for his own sake,” his successor said.

Former PM Denzil Douglas. “All he wanted was money, money for his own sake,” his successor said.

And to Parliament, Harris laid the blame on predecessor Denzil Douglas, whom he ousted in a February election.

“And all he wanted was money, money for his own sake, and he was prepared to remove that which distinguishes us from other people and countries and other jurisdictions … to allow the illicit actors to be able to move about with disguise,” he was quoted as saying by the Observer.

Of course, it’s still possible to buy passports in St. Kitts and Nevis, but Harris has insisted that his government has smoothed out the excesses of the previous Labour government.

“The new government, which I now lead … has worked hard to strengthen the program to ensure that, by and large, no illicit actor can participate,” said Harris in an interview earlier this month.

Officially known as the Citizenship by Investment program, it allows foreign nationals to purchase St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship via either a $400,000 real estate purchase, or a $250,000 donation to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation.

Debuted in 1984, it is a cheaper version of programs run throughout the western world, including Canada and the United States.

Until it was cancelled earlier this year, the Canadian Immigrant Investor Program, for instance, offered a path to citizenship for anybody with a net worth of more than $1.6 million prepared to give a tax-free $800,000 loan to the federal government.

Foreign passport-buyers remain a critical part of the St. Kitts and Nevis economy. For the 2014 fiscal year, citizenship fees were cited as providing nearly half of the government’s $767.9-million budget.

In his 2016 budget address, Harris praised the Citizenship by Investment program as “a major contributor to the national economy” that had been allowed to “fall into disrepute.”

Canada’s decision to kill the visa waiver, in particular, was cited as a friendly government “publicly telling the world it could not endure a relationship that had become risky to its national security interests.”

It was ‘all because one man was caught up with his greed and hubris and self-interest’

At the time, Canada’s rejection prompted a mass recall of 15,000 St. Kitts and Nevis passports to remove a particularly controversial feature that did not display the place of birth of a passport holder.

The ruling Team Unity government has maintained that the feature was maintained to make St. Kitts and Nevis passports more attractive to “illicit” buyers.

Despite changes, however, visas remain mandatory for “genuine visitors from St. Kitts and Nevis,” according to a note by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Entry will be denied to “those who would otherwise be inadmissible to Canada.”

Meanwhile, citizenship sales continue, and St. Kitts and Nevis authorities are quick to note the dozens of countries that will still let in a St. Kitts and Nevis passport holder for free.

“People holding a St. Kitts and Nevis passport can travel to 133 countries without the need for a visa; you can travel to Europe and a multiplicity of countries in the Caribbean,” said Harris in a recent interview.