Tony Astaphan

Gabriel,

I called Linton a traitor to his country because he lied to the world about the CBI and the allegations in relation to diplomatic passports. Linton gave credence to Kroft’s foolishness that the CBI functions like a mail order transaction. 

Following this 60 Minutes event, the Prime Minister delivered an address to the Nation. He said among other things

‘The campaign itself and some of its  main actors, were not by and in themselves, a major surprise. We have in the past experienced attack after attack from members of the United Workers Party who we believe work for, or have common interests with persons like Chris Kalin of Henley and Partners. It was former Prime Minister Denzil Douglas who told us that Edison James approached him as a salesman on behalf of Henley and Partners. It is not in dispute that Lennox Linton travelled with him several times. Chris Kalin of Henley and Partners has never been disposed to Dominica, ever since the election of a Dominica Labour Party administration in 2000 and our subsequent refusal to hire them as the exclusive agent for our citizenship by investment programme.

Indeed, you will recall that I have outlined to you before, the close relationship between Henley & Partners and the Leader of the Opposition and the United Workers Party. They or persons  introduced by them were major financiers of the UWP in the 2005 and 2009  elections. Indeed, I strongly believe  their machinations may have  led to the ascension to leadership of the UWP, by Mr. Lennox Linton.

I do not wish to speculate as to whether the program idea was that of CBS or Henley and Partners, but, at this point it really does not matter. I think that Chris Kalin and Linton grabbed  the opportunity to convey the negative messages, images and impression of our countries to the world.  ….

We have explained ad nauseum how the CBI Programme works and Linton is more than aware of that. Let me once again, stress that the CBI Programme is governed by legislation, and persons seeking citizenship of Dominica under the CBI have to undergo a most rigorous, yet transparent, due diligence exercise, that involves criminal, character and ethics checks, by international law enforcement agencies and authorities and due diligence agencies.

While it is no longer mandatory for face to face interviews to be done, it may be required if deemed necessary. Once due diligence reports are received, a committee of Government officials, review all of the documentation before recommending the granting of citizenship. If there is any doubt or concern, further questions or vetting will take place. In no instance is citizenship granted to any one, if the due diligence checks do not pass muster. 

  Ladies and Gentlemen, quite simply, Lennox Linton, with the whole world watching, had a choice to make. He could have come down on the side of Dominica, or he could have sided with those who wish to see the demise of the Dominica CBI Program for their own selfish reasons. Which side did he choose? Certainly, not Dominica’s!’

In relation to the diplomatic passports the Prime Minister said

‘‘Let me turn now to the issue of diplomatic passports. We have said more than once that diplomatic passports are not sold under the CBI Programme or otherwise. We categorically refute the allegation that diplomatic passports are being sold by this Government as alleged or at all. It is regrettable that even in the face of constant denial and complete lack of any evidence that Mr. Linton would persist and insist on repeating his lies that such a practice exists. .

Parliamentarian Linton spoke on Sunday about the alleged sale of diplomatic passports to three individuals in particular. I wish now to address each of these allegations.

First off, it was said that Bahamian Rudolph King had been issued a Diplomatic passport and appointed Ambassador to Bahrain. Ladies and Gentlemen…that is a lie!

Rudolph King never applied for or was ever granted a passport of any sort, whether service, official or diplomatic, by the government of Dominica.

Rudolph King was never appointed ambassador to Bahrain.

The Government of Dominica has refuted this allegation by Linton on several occasions over the past 12 years, yet he persists in repeating it. This time, on international television.

I call on Lennox Linton one more time, to put up or shut up! To Lennox Linton I say – Provide evidence of Rudolph King having been issued a Dominica passport or having been appointed Ambassador to Bahrain. If you cannot do this, then do the decent thing and apologize to the people of Dominica!

Secondly, Linton claims that attempts were made to appoint Francisco Corallo to the FAO, while he was on an international crime watch list. This again, is a lie. 

In June of 2011, the Government of Dominica wrote to the Italian government requesting a no-objection to the appointment of Corallo as its representative to the FAO. The Italian government was concerned in about October/ November 2011 that Corallo had considerable business interests in Italy, and was not comfortable agreeing to him becoming a Diplomat at the FAO. That was the right of the Italian Government to do, and this put an end  to the matter. 

At this time Corallo was recognized as a successful business man, and  was  at this time, given in 2011, a  clean bill of health by the Ministry of the Interior and Foreign Affairs of Italy. .

It was almost  a full year later that reports surfaced of Corallo’s name appearing on an international watch list. By this time, the pursuit of his appointment had already ended, because of  Italy’s concern about his expansive business operations in that country. The Italian authorities never once made reference to any concerns about his integrity, alleged criminal background or watch list. .

So it was false and malicious of Lennox Linton to give the impression that at the time of the Government’s request for Italy’s consent to his appointment, Corallo was on an international watch list. That was simply not true.  The facts, as made public before, clearly shows that the correspondence to Italy was dispatched in June 2011, and Corallo’s name first appeared on an international watch list in late 2012. Incidentally, Corallo has to date not been convicted of any major crime, as suggested by the program on Sunday. So that is lie No. 2!

The third person of interest named by Linton on Sunday was Diezani Alison- Madueke, a former Head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and senior Minister of the Government of Nigeria. Alison-Madueke was also The recipient of Forbes Magazine’s Best of Africa Award In leadership. This is the sterling record which Alison-Madueke had when I  invited her to serve as a voice and face of Dominica in Africa, a continent that lies untapped to most countries in the region.

It was some time after I spoke to Alison-Maduake that she was approached by British authorities and detained for questioning in the United Kingdom. She has up to this day, not been charged with any crime and is not wanted by any country. She currently resides in London, England, a free woman. However, when the news broke of her detention, the Government of Dominica voiced its concerns publicly and made clear that its association with Alison-Madueke was suspended until such time as she was cleared of all suspicion of wrong doing.

As I said earlier, to date no charges have been brought, but still the Government of Dominica has no connection with the former international figure, based on the concerns as expressed back then by the British authorities.’

The Prime Minister was clear, no sales and  no criminal on the run was given any appointment or passport.

Mr Sam Raphael, who ran as an independent against the Government some years ago,  went on Q 95 and told the Nation that the 60 Minutes program was a hit job. He added that he was interviewed by CBS’s staffers who were not interested in what he was saying because he was not eating their slosh when Linton swallowed with cool-aid.  He also said or implied that Linton’s portrayal of the CBI was false. Linton and his Cabal went for Sam’s throat.

Mr Gregor Nassief, another successful and independent citizen, condemned Linton. Mr Nassief repudiated three of Linton’s many lies frontally.  He wrote

‘ACT #1: Mail order is the buying of goods or services by mail delivery. The buyer places an order for the desired products with the merchant through some remote method such as through a telephone call or web site. Then, the products are delivered to the customer.  Acquiring Citizenship to Dominica is nothing like mail order.  Amazon.com or any mail order company does not conduct an extensive due diligence on the buyer before agreeing to sell. Such due diligences are thorough and pick up every material detail on the applicant’s past.  The requirement for a “ face to face” interview was removed to remain competitive in the market place as other jurisdictions first abolished this and can only be justified on the merits of the integrity and robustness of the due diligence process.  The steps in the process are available on line: http://cbiu.gov.dm/citizenship/how-to-apply/  To suggest the two processes are similar is intentionally misleading and damages the destination and its CBI program. ;.

FACT:…. BUT there is absolutely no evidence that the public is aware of that “we are selling passports to criminals” and that these diplomatic passports are being sold for cash under the table.  The Government has also stated categorically and repeatedly that Rudolph King was never appointed ambassador to Bahrain and has never held a Dominica passport. This was the most damaging aspect of your presentation on 60 minutes and you have provided absolutely no proof of these assertions.  It is telling that you would discuss the details of diplomatic passports on a 60 minutes program focussed on CBI knowing full well that one has nothing to do with the other.  Your intent to further your agenda at the expense of the country’s reputation for political gain is clear…

FACT: FACT: Again, there is no evidence of “under the table trading”.  That is your speculation.  ’

 

Henley & Partners in their press release of the 12th January 2017 confirmed Linton’s misrepresentation of the CBI programs.  They said

‘Caribbean Citizenship-by-Investment Programs

Following a report broadcast on the 60 minutes television program in the US, Henley & Partners, the globally leading firm in citizenship by investment, is concerned about the one-sided image that the report paints of Caribbean Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programs.

Henley & Partners has been involved in the region for over 20 years and has worked with all Caribbean CBI programs to date. While every program is exposed to certain risks and challenges, the firm is of the view that today, the Caribbean citizenship programs are generally very well run and do not pose a security threat as was suggested in the TV program.

……….

Dr. Christian H. Kalin, a specialist in immigration and citizenship law and policy and the Chairman of Henley & Partners, who was also interviewed on the TV program, says that what was stated in the program also regarding security risks is inaccurate and does not reflect the current reality. Kalin states: “Of course there is always room for improvement, but generally speaking the Caribbean has well governed and secure programmes. The alleged sale of diplomatic passports is an entirely different matter and lies outside the scope of Citizenship-by-Investment programs. I believe that major countries such as the US actually recognize those facts and will continue to work with the Caribbean governments to further strengthen the measures already in place. No Caribbean government is interested in having their CIP cause a problem to the international community.”

Kalin continues: “It is important also to realize that Citizenship-by-Investment programs have played and continue to play an important part in attracting much needed foreign direct investment in the Caribbean. The programs are therefore of vital economic interest in the region and have helped several economies, notably St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica as well as Antigua and Barbuda, to sustain sufficient capital inflows during economically challenging periods.”

Henley & Partners and its Chairman Dr. Kalin are concerned that only small and selective extracts of Dr. Kalin’s carefully differentiated interview were aired, so that the TV program did not reflect his views comprehensively. The comments that were aired have not properly communicated the context in which he spoke.’

I noticed   you made no mention of the Prime Minister’s numerous.  Yet you swallowed Linton’s   story hook line and sinker. But what I consider disingenuous on your part is the attempt to misrepresent the debate.  We have addressed the issue of diplomatic passports repeatedly. The allegation made by Linton and 60 Minutes is that the Government and no doubt  they implied  the Prime Minister  sold passports to criminal on the run.  This is false. I noted  you did not repeat this allegation. Instead your dressed this pig in a wedding dress when you wrote ‘With regard to Dominica the report also featured the fact that several of our island’s diplomats have been arrested or are persons of ill repute. ‘ While I could challenge the accuracy of your  statement, because it is  not accurate, the fact is that a couple of persons appointed Goodwill Ambassadors have had their appointments revoked by the Government  because of events which have occurred after the fact, and in some cases 2 years or more afterwards.   This has  never been denied by the Government. What has been, and is being, denied is the allegation that the Government and Prime Minister has  sold diplomatic passports under the table. 

Further, Linton has had ample opportunity to provide the evidence of these alleged dodgy sales when interviewed by Huffington Post. The following is an excerpt of this interview

 

‘Q: Why this focus on diplomatic passports?

A.The diplomatic passport selling business is different from the Citizenship by Investment programme. This money is not going into the treasury, it’s going into the pockets of corrupt officials. People are purchasing [diplomatic] passports and diplomatic immunity. Alison [disgraced former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke] bought a diplomatic passport and bought a position. She’s done nothing with that position [of “Trade and Investment Commissioner for Dominica”] that I’m aware of, we didn’t even know about this until five months later [when police in London arrested her]. It was the same with [Francesco] Corallo in Italy, when police came to arrest him, he claimed diplomatic immunity. We only ever learn about who gets our diplomatic passports afterwards, through Google.

The evidence is clear as daylight that our government has been selling diplomatic passports to crooks and criminals.

Q: I haven’t seen any evidence yet. Where is the evidence that money changed hands?

A.Alison [Diezani Alison-Madueke] wound up with a diplomatic passport within six days of meeting [the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt] Skerrit. The police found millions in cash in Alison’s house. [Embattled Macau billionaire Ng] Lap Seng said in a U.S. court that he got a diplomatic passport because he had promised to invest twenty million dollars in Dominica. The evidence is circumstantial.

Q: Speaking of evidence, the last thing I heard, [UWP member] Thomas Fontaine and the government were taking each other to court over his allegation that suspected terrorist mastermind Dawood Ibrahim had acquired a Dominican passport. Since then, nothing. What’s happening there?

A.The government don’t want this court case to move forward. They have too much to hide.

Q: But where is the evidence that Dawood Ibrahim got a Dominican passport?

A.My understanding is that Thomas Fontaine received a tip-off.’

I am not sure about you, but when a Leader of the Opposition hands up  this level of gossip mongering as his evidence of alleged sales, he must be condemned. And when he goes on the international stage to poison his country’s reputation with more lies or rumourmongering … well you know my position.