Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, has sought to clear the air on allegations made against him in a documentary produced by International TV Network Al Jazeera.
The first part of a documentary, Diplomats For Sale which names Dominica as one of the countries involved in the alleged sale of diplomatic passports, aired yesterday on Al Jazeera.
In Diplomats for Sale, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit exposes politicians in the Caribbean including Dominica and Grenada willing to accept secret campaign contributions from wealthy foreign businessmen in exchange for diplomatic passports.
In Dominica, members of both the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) and opposition United Workers Party (UWP) appear willing to receive money in return for a political post, allegations the leaders of both parties strongly deny.
Undercover filming also revealed how former Dominican Prime Minister, Oliver Seraphin, offered to broker a secret deal to hand out an ambassadorship in Asia for fees totalling $470,000.
The document also mentioned Attorney, David Bruney and Seraphin appearing as key in direct involvement with the opposition leader who is campaigning on a platform of anti-corruption.
However, Linton said during a live interview on Q-95 Radio on Tuesday that he has not spoken to or seen Oliver Seraphin in more than 5 years, nor has he had any conversation with Bruney to sell diplomatic passports, ambassadorships, or diplomatic immunity to anybody.
“I have had no discussions with Oliver Seraphin. As a matter of fact, I have not spoken to or seen, Oliver Seraphin in more than 5 years,” he revealed. “I didn’t even know he was in Dominica. We have had absolutely no conversation about campaign financing, far less campaign finance money in exchange for diplomatic passports or diplomatic immunity.”
“Understand what you just saw in the Al Jazeera documentary. You saw a number of politicians being accused of involvement in one way or the other and at the backend of the programme, you saw the Al Jazeera report seeking to tie Lennox Linton into a deal to selling diplomatic passports,” Linton explained. “It never happened.”
He further explained that he spoke to David Bruney about a state asset recovery program that he [Linton] is committed to as the leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) after getting into government.
He said the extent which David as a legal person, using his network, could identify for the party a couple of legal people with international experience, including that of finance, money laundering and so on, “ to help us find the assets of the state of Dominica that have been deposited around the world.”
“That, in essence, was the substance of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that I signed with David Bruney,” he revealed. “As Al Jazeera has noted it has absolutely nothing to do with the exchange of money for diplomatic immunity, diplomatic passports or ambassadorships. They have said that in the story.”
Linton went on to say that he cannot claim any responsibility for what went down between Seraphine and Bruney.
“I can only tell you what went down between David Bruney and myself and the substance and truth of the document that Al Jazeera claims to have,” he remarked.
He said further that Al Jazeera also claims that there is a document indicating that their man, the Al Jazeera man, also has a document indicating an Ambassadorship will be conferred after the election, should he become Prime Minister.
“That particular potential Ambassador is an Al Jazeera plant who spoke to me, who sent me WhatsApp messages about his conversations or contacts with David Bruney,” Linton stated. “Why was it not possible for Al Jazeera to use the WhatsApp chat messages their plant, the Al Jazeera undercover agents sent to my phone and the single conversation that we have, it had absolutely nothing to do with any diplomatic passport, or any ambassadorship or any diplomatic immunity in exchange for money, nothing.”
He also made it clear that at no time in the past, now or there will ever be an occasion in the future where, “ Lennox Linton will offer ambassadorships, diplomatic passports or diplomatic immunity for sale to anybody because fundamentally I think it’s wrong.”
“I think it’s a violation to the United Nations Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations of 1961.”
Linton mentioned also that he believes the practice of selling diplomatic immunity, ambassadorships, and diplomatic passports represents a crime against humanity.
Meantime, Linton said this is not a 2019 election campaign issue.
“This is a matter that has been with us for a number of years,” he stressed. “We saw in the documentary the extent to which Alireza Monfared who now owes US$1.3 billion to the state of Iran that Iran claims he stole from them, we see all the evidence in that documentary.”
Linton stressed that if his party wins, it will be the first government in the history of the Caribbean, “within the first 100 days of our administration,” to enact in parliament, an act to prevent the Sale of diplomatic immunity.