A Dominican diplomatic passport issued to Iranian, Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, was revoked in 2016, Senior Counsel and advisor to the government, Tony Astaphan, has told Dominica News Online.
His revelation came after news broke that Monfared was arrested and extradited to Iran on allegations that he was involved in that middle eastern country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal.
DNO made several attempts to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confirm whether Monfared actually held a Dominican diplomatic passport at the time of his arrest or whether he ever held a Dominican diplomatic passport, but was unsuccessful.
DNO then contacted Astaphan, who, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Skerrit, informed us that the diplomatic passport was revoked on January 20, 2016. He said this was done as part of a review process of existing appointments.
He also said a decision was made after the matter involving Nigerian ex-government minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to appoint a consultant to assist with the process of making appointments to Dominica’s diplomatic positions and since then, no new appointments have been made. Astaphan said the process continues.
Alison-Madueke was appointed as ambassador and commissioner for trade and investment for Dominica but was arrested in Britain on suspicions of bribery and money laundering in 2015. So far no charges have been brought against her.
Monfared was involved in the controversial My Dominica Trade House website which back in 2015 said it was a company based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with three local companies in Dominica.
Reports indicate that he was issued Dominican diplomatic passport number, DP0000426, in March 2o15.
DNO was told that both Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron are out of state and will issue a formal response to the matter upon their return.