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Dominican officials involved in diplomatic passport sale

World

Dominican officials involved in diplomatic passport sale

Renuka Patnaik

In November 2017, the investigative unit of the Qatari news network Al Jazeera had published a comprehensive report exposing the serious crimes committed by the officials of Dominica, a Caribbean nation, which are selling diplomatic passports to various individuals in exchange of few hundred thousand dollars.

According to Al Jazeera, politicians in the Caribbean are said to be involved in a corrupt trade of diplomatic posts in exchange for money.

In Diplomats for Sale, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit exposed politicians in Dominica and Grenada willing to accept secret campaign contributions from wealthy foreign businessmen in exchange for diplomatic passports.

In Dominica, members of both main political parties appear willing to receive money in return for a political post, allegations they strongly deny.

Undercover filming reveals how former Dominican Prime Minister Oliver Seraphin offered to broker a secret deal to hand out an ambassadorship in Asia for fees totaling $470,000.

The revelation comes days ahead of a general election in Dominica on December 6, in which Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is up for re-election.

Al Jazeera’s investigation also reveals Skerrit allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars for his 2014 election campaign from an Iranian businessman named Alireza Monfared in exchange for an ambassadorship for Dominica to Malaysia.

Besides money, Monfared also allegedly provided Skerrit with T-shirts and other paraphernalia for his 2014 campaign.

“Ali received his diplomatic passport through the hands of the prime minister personally when he came to Kuala Lumpur,” according to businessman Manoj Bullah, who was a witness to the deal.

“Without that money, Ali would not have gotten his diplomatic passport,” says Bullah.

One of the reasons Monfared wanted the passport, Bullah said, was that it would provide the Iranian with diplomatic immunity and prevent him from having to worry about the Iranian authorities.

Monfared was eventually arrested by his own government and in early November 2019 sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for stealing over a billion dollars in oil revenues.

Oliver Seraphin later denied ever discussing the proposal to purchase a diplomatic passport with Skerrit, claiming he was speaking without authority and name-dropping to impress.

Prime Minister Skerrit strongly denies speaking to Oliver Seraphin about an ambassadorship, calling his comments totally false.

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