A diplomatic passport from Dominica

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has refuted allegations that diplomatic passports are being sold by the government.

He was responding to the issue which was raised in a CBS 60 Minutes program.

“The sale of diplomatic passports is not part of the citizenship by investment program, but it goes on under the table, particularly in Dominica which has had a most impressive corps of dodgy diplomats,” the script from the program reads.

Skerrit said Dominican diplomatic passports are not sold under any circumstances.

“We have said more than once that diplomatic passports are not sold under the CBI Programme or otherwise,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “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. (Lennox) Linton would persist and insist on repeating his lies that such a practice exists.”

He added, “Over the years we have had many outstanding non-Dominicans offer their services free of charge to Dominica in their countries of origin. They have served as our Ambassadors and Trade Investment Commissioners, in parts of the World where we are unable to be represented by Nationals. In a few instances one or two of those persons have found themselves at odds with the law, but this was never prior to or known to me or the Government before we considered them. On the very rare occasions when this occurred, immediate action was taken to revoke their appointments as appropriate.”

In the CBS program, three individuals were named as allegedly having diplomatic passports and Skerrit said he was going to respond to all of them.

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.,” the Prime Minister said. 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.”

He called on Linton to “shut up” on the matter.

“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,” he stated.

Skerrit also addressed the issue of Francisco Corallo, who was nominated to be Dominica’s ambassador to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

“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,” he said. “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.”

He continued, “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 number 2.”

Then there is the matter concerning Diezani Alison- Madueke, which was much discussed in Dominica.

“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,” Skerrit said. “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.”

He added, “So, again, it was downright wrong and misleading of Lennox Linton to suggest, one, that the government of Dominica had approached her; knowing her to be a criminal, and also that the Government of Dominica had never commented on her detention. Nothing could be further from the truth, as an official statement on the matter was promptly issued.”