Prime Minister Rosoovelt Skerrit has declared that his government’s hands are clean as it relates to the mysterious arrival of Mehul Choksi on Dominica’s shores.
The 62-year-old diamantaire who is Indian born but holds citizenship from Antigua and Barbuda is wanted by Indian judicial authorities for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank of two billion US dollars.
Whilst police in Dominica claim that Choksi entered the court illegally and have since charged him with that offence, Choksi, through his attorneys, alleges that he was kidnapped, beaten and unwillingly brought to Dominica.
The matter has attracted significant media attention and Dominica has found its way at the focal point of the issue.
The police and the government have remained tightlipped on the situation however, when questioned by the media on his weekly annou palay show, Skerrit labelled claims of allegations of a plot between his government and the governments of Antigua and India, as “total nonsense.”
“To say that the government of Dominica and the government of Antigua along with India colluded in any way, give me a break, that’s total nonsense. We don’t get involved ourselves in those kinds of activities, those practices, not at all. I mean that is absurd and we reject it and it is unfortunate that anybody would want to propagate this unsubstantiated claim by a gentleman who is before the courts,” he contended.
The Prime Minister further vowed that his government will evenly apply the law irrespective of who is accused of committing any crimes.
He said, such was the case with Iranian born, Dominican citizenship holder and diplomat, Alireza Zibahalat Monfared who was wanted by the Iranian government for allegedly embezzling billions of dollars while the country evaded international oil sanctions.
Monfared was arrested in the Dominican Republic in 2017 following a lengthy international manhunt.
“You saw all this talk about Monfared. Had he stayed in Dominica at the time that the Iranian government had asked for him, we would have apprehended him,” Skerrit stated, adding “There was a discussion and a decision to apprehend him so that the Iranian authorities could present to us the charges. Mr, Monfared was a Dominican citizen but we hold a brief to the international law, our responsibilities and our obligations.”
Opposition Leader and leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) Lennox Linton, has insisted that the government was involved in a cover-up on behalf of the Iranian national and ex-Dominican diplomat who was arrested on allegations of being involved in his country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal. He claims that the government of Dominica refused to cooperate with the government of Iran on the extradition of Monfared to face trial.
Linton is alleging that the Iranian authorities had made their interest in Monfared known to the government of Dominica prior to January 20, 2016. He maintains that Monfared lived in Dominica until September 2016, months after the January 20, 2016 date on which the government said his diplomatic passport was revoked.
After news broke of Monfared’s arrest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on his status saying that he became citizen of Dominica, and eventually a diplomat, following a comprehensive due diligence investigation.
Skerrit went urged his opponents, mainly United Workers Party (UWP) supporters and the party’s leader, to not be selective in matters they support especially when it’s of a similar nature.
“I’m hearing Dominicans, especially the opposition, talking about Mr Choksi but there’s a young boy from Grand Bay, facing extradition to theUSVI and we heard nothing from the opposition in that matter,” he argued. “So we cannot want to be treating different people differently depending on who they are or how much money they may have. All of us are subjected to the laws irrespective of our position or how much money we have or we don’t have.”
The Prime Minister said his government will allow the court to carry out its process regarding Choksi and gave the assurance that his rights and obligations will be respected by Dominica.
Skerrit also expressed support for the government of Antigua in its move to revoke Choksi’s citizenship.