In a confidential cable dated November 2, 2006 on offshore financial service and economic citizenship, the US embassy wrote: Dominica plans to resurrect both its economic citizenship program and its offshore financial services sector. Both programs previously left scars on Dominica’s reputation, and so the government is emphasizing that it will implement these programs with appropriate regulation and increased due diligence. The appointment of Julius Timothy as the Minister of Economic Development and Planning raises some questions about Dominica’s commitment to a new course because of his service as finance minister during the failure of the previous offshore financial services sector.
Dominica is striving to revitilize its economic citizenship program and its offshore financial services sector. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has publicly stated multiple times that offshore financial services will play a crucial role in economic recovery. PM Skerrit named Julius Timothy to head these programs as Minister of Economic Development and Planning. Timothy was the co-founder of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP), but he crossed over to the ruling Dominican Labor Party on September 25 to accept the ministry portfolio. Timothy also served as finance minister during the UWP’s last stint in government (1995-2000).
This is Dominica’s second attempt at both programs. The previous UWP administration, which was widely considered corrupt, initiated Dominica’s first versions of the economic citizenship and offshore financial services programs. The financial services sector lacked crucial regulation, bred corruption and money laundering, and resulted in the blacklisting of Dominica’s financial sector by various international organizations and financial institutions. According to the current press secretary, Sean Douglas, once the DLP took power in 2000, the government pushed out the “dodgy” banks responsible for these problems and put most owners of these financial institutions in jail. One of these banks, Carib Bank, is still under investigation by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Dominica’s economic citizenship program has also generated serious concerns, particularly about the types of people purchasing citizenship and the purposes for which they were using Dominican passports. In the 1990s, Dominica issued over 600 passports to citizens of China, Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, India, and other countries. The economic citizenship program recently came under scrutiny when Dominica took Switzerland to the International Court of Justice over the Swiss decision to strip a Russian-born Dominican “diplomat” of his diplomatic status.