Former Attorney General Bernard Wiltshire has denied any involvement in the passport scam though admitting he had innocently dealt with several persons allegedly involved in the crime.
Wiltshire made the disclosure in an audio statement released on the weekend. He was responding to reports in the electronic and broadcast media last week that he was held for questioning by police in a matter involving fraudulent documents and passports in which two civil servants have so far been charged.
“I had absolutely nothing to do with any passport scam whatsoever, absolutely nothing. I knew nothing about it. I dealt with the people involved. I know one of the people involved who work at the Registry…but this was purely to do with business,” said Wiltshire, who was the United Workers Party candidate in the 2009 general elections for Castle Bruce.
Wiltshire did not say whether he was brought in for questioning by the police but stated that the “police are not accusing me of that. It is never done”.
The attorney however explained that in 2006 he dealt with a man who has committed three scams. He said the man came asked him (Wiltshire) to do a statutory declaration because he lost his passport.
“… He filled out passport form… asked me to sign passport form on his behalf,” Wiltshire said in the statement. “(He) asked me to sign that passport form that is all I did. i didn’t know the person really except I think I have been introduced to him sometime before.”
Wiltshire blasted the media.
“The impression given on some of the news stations that I in fact have something to do with this scam is absolutely nonsense. The people of Dominica know that since 2000 I have been outspoken in my attacks upon the selling of passports to people we don’t know. That is a very dangerous thing and it has brought us to this present problem that we have. It has now corrupted some of our key institutions like the Registry. It has corrupted the Passport Office as well. And it is in fact put people like myself in danger from scammers who come and give us wrong stories,” he said.
The attorney said this situation has put Dominica in all “kinds of difficulties, harbours criminals… and people are forging these passports all over the world”.
He added: “So we have lost control really over the distribution of our passports in the world. This is a very great danger and that must stop now. It must stop otherwise we will put ourselves in greater danger. When you’re in a hole stop digging.”
Wiltshire reiterated that he has nothing to do with the scam. “So I just want the public to know that I could disprove anybody who wants to use this last example of what actually happened there as some kind of way of abusing me even further than they have abused me over the many years. I had nothing to do with this scam. I know nothing about it. I am not interested in it. I would never get involved in something like that which in fact puts our country in jeopardy or in danger,” he further explained.
Public servants Nash Mitchell and Lyndon Marie appeared in court last week Monday on forgery charges in relation to the passport scam. They are facing charges of 14 counts of forgery, including the possession and uttering of forged Commonwealth of Dominica passports and birth certificates.
The crimes allegedly took place between November 11, 2005 and March 31, 2011 and already 40 forged passports have been reportedly identified by police.
The men were denied bail.
Police believe there are more and that the alleged passport scam has placed Dominica’s sovereignty into the focus of the international community with consequences for legitimate passport holders.
Several other persons are being investigated for the crime. If found guilty perpetrators could serve a maximum of 25 years imprisonment.