Hotelier, Sam Raphael, has added fuel to the raging debate of the alleged sale of Dominican diplomatic passports, saying the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is guilty of the very same thing it is accusing the government of doing.
But Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, has challenged Raphael to produce the evidence that the UWP was involved in the sale of diplomatic passports.
The UWP has long accused the government of being involved in the sale of diplomatic passports.
Linton said recently that investigations by CBS 60 Minutes have uncovered “the sale of diplomatic passports, though it is not part of the citizenship by investment program, it goes on under the table particularly in Dominica which has had a most impressive corp of dodgy diplomats.”
The government has denied the accusation on a number of occasions but the matter has remained a topic of public discourse for the past months.
Speaking on Q95’s The Hot Seat recently, Raphael added a new dimension to the debate alleging that the UWP, at the highest level, did sell diplomatic passports.
“The opposition party, Sam Raphael is stating, he was present when the opposition party, at the highest level sold diplomatic passports,” he stated.
According to Raphael, the party took money for the passports from six individuals who wired it to Dominica to fund the UWP campaign in 2005 to the tune of $3-million, “and in the same vein in 2009.”
“Where do you think they got the peleau from or the chicken or the t-shirts and all the buses and so on?”, he stated.
Raphael also claimed that Linton is aware of the matter.
“So to go out on the international media and to broadcast and to raise the issue that there is an allegation – smoke, maybe there is fire – that this administration sold diplomatic passports when you know your party, know for a fact because the financial records are there,” he noted.
He added, “But you are absolving yourself of the responsibility because a party is not one man, a party is an organization and if you know there is a history of corruption in your organization, the first thing to do is to speak to that and to sort of reconcile that in all honesty before you go attacking the other guy…”
Raphael’s statements were soon pounced upon by supporters of the government who went on radio and social media to spread them.
However, Linton wants Raphael to produce evidence to substantiate his claims, saying they are “an elaborate concoction.”
According to him, no party in opposition has the authority to sell diplomatic passports.
“Let me repeat, no political party in opposition can sell diplomatic passports because they have no authority at all to issue a diplomatic passport,” Linton said on Q95’s Talk on the Block earlier this week. “And so if somebody has money to pay for a diplomatic passport, the sensible thing for them to do is to approach the people in government to see whether it is possible for their money to be exchanged for a diplomatic passport. You cannot be in your right senses taking a party in opposition to put significant money down to say you want a diplomatic passport when the party in government is available to you.”
Linton stated that as leader of the UWP he has done his own investigations into the matter and they have revealed there were no plans to sell diplomatic passports to anyone.
“Being the leader of the UWP at this time, I have made inquiries of the people who ought to have known what was going on at the time and none of them, none of them knows anything about it, any plan, any offer, any agreement to sell diplomatic passports to anybody at all,” he stated.
He noted that this is why he wants Raphael to produce evidence to back up his claims.
“That is why, I have asked for Sam Raphael to present the evidence, not the talk, not the hearsay, not the I-say-so, the evidence that there was an agreement, a plan, an MOU or whatever for the UWP to sell diplomatic passports on a pay-down-you-will-get-the- passport-later plan,” he said.
He added that is it incumbent on him “to know or to find our what is going on especially when these wild allegations are being made by people who claim to know.”
“And based on inquiries I have made, I am prepared to say that this is an elaborate concoction, it never happened,” Linton said. “Yes the gentleman was involved in finding money to finance the campaign of the UWP but there was no plan to sell or to deliver or to handover or to grant any diplomatic passport in exchange for money and that is what I have found out from my inquiries, my investigations.”
Linton was specific on the type of evidence he wanted Raphael to bring forth.
“I am not asking for bank records of monies you received because that has been established, it has not been denied that you Mr. Raphael in 2005, I don’t know whether it was in 2009 as well, received money for the campaign of the UWP but I have been told, and I believe, you have not received any money from anybody on any promise from anybody in the UWP that they will be a recipient of a diplomatic passport,” he remarked.