President of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, has criticized Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit over his response to a damning international investigation that placed Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program under the microscope.
The investigation looked into fugitives, alleged criminals, and politically connected people who had purchased citizenship and passports from Dominica, according to the Washington DC-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
The government of Dominica has been quiet after the results of the investigation were published in several major news outlets around the world and one of the journalists who worked on it, Switzerland-based Tony Harari, said the government consistently refused to answer questions on the program.
“If they have nothing to hide, the best option would have been to answer to us,” he said on an online forum.
Skerrit was quizzed on the matter at a press conference last week but he said he has no obligation to answer questions from anyone around the world, except the people of Dominica.
“I am answerable only to Dominicans,’ he stated. “I am prepared to have a conversation with people who want to have a sincere and honest and transparent discussion but these people are being paid by people who want to see this country come to its knees.”
But speaking on local radio station Q95, Linton said he is not sure what Skerrit meant when he said he is answerable only to Dominicans because Dominicans, like him and others, have been asking about the island’s CBI program.
He stated that when he was a duly elected member of parliament for two terms and leader of the opposition, he posed numerous questions to the prime minister in parliament on issues related to the program but “he ran around the issue.”
“The questions before the prime minister regarding the CBI program are still on the table and he hasn’t answered,” Linton said.
Linton repeated some of the questions that he said were asked of the prime minister.
“Number one, mister prime minister, how many citizenships have been issued under the program during your stewardship of Dominica?” he remarked.
“Or if you want to narrow it down, let’s go to the last seven years. How many? And how much money have we collected from the sale of these citizenships or from the issue of these citizenships? Of the monies collected from the issue of these citizenships, how much money has been deposited into the consolidated funds of Dominica, and how much remains outside of Dominica that is not under our control?”
He added, “We had raised those questions repeatedly and the prime minister refused to answer them. So when he says that his obligation is to the people of Dominica and he will answer the questions of the people of Dominica these are classic examples of questions from the people of Dominica, even the duly elected representative of the people of Dominica, he refused to answer.”
Linton believes there are two problems with Dominica’s CBI program.
“Problem number one is that too many of our passports are ending up in the hands of crooks and criminals around the world to do their dirty work and to commit their crimes against humanity,” he stated. “And secondly, the money that we have earned from the sale of our citizenships, the bulk portion of it is not in Dominica, it is actually linked overseas under the control of Mr Skerrit and his friends. What’s up with that? “
He continued, “So I am not sure what he (Skerrit) says when he tells you his obligations is to Dominicans to answer the questions because the questions from Dominicans as put forward by persons like myself have been clear and he continues to dodge them, he continues to ignore them…”