The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is calling on the Keith Mitchell-led Government to investigate the circumstances under which controversial foreign investor, Robert Martin Oveson, was granted Grenadian Citizenship status under the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
Speaking to reporters Monday at the weekly Congress press briefing, the party Chairman Vincent Roberts said that NDC is gravely concerned about the manner in which Oveson received citizenship in light of his criminal record in the State of Utah.
Roberts called for an investigation into Oveson and his citizenship and for the results to be made public within reasonable time.
“We don’t think that this should be drawn out for more than two weeks. Two weeks is sufficient to find out if false information was provided.” Roberts said.
THE NEW TODAY was able to retrieve the criminal record of the Americans and made it public in the February 3 issue of the paper under the headline banner, “Criminal Record of Robert Martin Oveson.”
Oveson was found guilty by a high court judge in a case involving domestic violence dating back to May 2013, in which he was charged with two counts of assault, burglary, and domestic violence in the presence of a child.
The accused was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 365 days for the conviction of Burglary, a ‘Class A Misdemeanor.”
He also received a suspended sentence of 180 days on each count of Assault – attempt to do bodily injury to another, a ‘Class B Misdemeanor” and for the conviction of Domestic violence in the presence of a child a ‘Class B Misdemeanor,’ he received a suspended sentence of 180 days.
Roberts pointed to Section 8.3 (b) of the Citizenship by Investment Act, which states that “an applicant who has provided false information on his or her application form, not having received a free pardon; has at anytime been convicted in any country of an offence for which the maximum custodial penalty for the same or similar offence in Grenada is in excess of 6 months imprisonment, is involved in any activity likely to cause disrepute to Grenada shall not be approved for permanent residence of Citizenship under this Act.”
He stated that in comparison to the Grenada Criminal Code, the penalty for similar offences, as those that Oveson has been convicted of “are all a penalty of a custodial sentence in excess of 6 months.”
He spoke of being doubtful that the controversial American businessman included his criminal record on his application form for the CBI.
“I do not want to believe that the persons responsible for vetting the application forms…would grant citizenship knowing that he (Oveson) had those convictions,” said the NDC Chairman.
“So the question is, did he provide false information, in which case he was not properly granted his citizenship (and) it should be cancelled, not even revoked,” he added.
Roberts went on: “…On the other hand, knowing the negligence and the greed and need to bring investment (to the country) at any cost, it is not beyond comprehension to believe that citizenship could have been granted even knowing this information and in that case one has to ask how can this happen?”
The NDC executive member also took issue with a recent statement made by Health Minister, Nicholas Steele that a “domestic violence issue” would not be sufficient grounds to prevent a foreigner from doing business in Grenada.
According to Roberts, it appears that the Mitchell-led government “is putting our country at risk with the manner in which the CBI is being handled” since this approach as articulated by Minister Steele “devalues our birthright as bonafide citizens, and it is a slap in the face of our patriotism and national pride”.
In addition, he branded Steele’s remarks as degrading “the strength of our passport”.
The NDC Chairman recalled that in 2002, Canada imposed a visa requirement on Grenada out of fear that it could not trust the passports that were already issued under a former Mitchell-led government, which was then forced to suspend the passport-selling programme that was in place.
Roberts also made brief remarks about statements made by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the new Grenada CBI programme, Steve Horsford in which he denied that Robert Martin Oveson is an agent for selling local passports under the CBI.
THE NEW TODAY has obtained information that Robert Martin who is also known as Robert Martin Oveson is the Managing Director of a Nevis-based company called NTL Trust, which has been appointed in early December 2015 as an authorised international licensed marketing agent for Grenada’s CBI.
The name Robert Martin Oveson is also included in the list of agents on the Government of Grenada website.