Is history repeating itself?
THE NEW TODAY has been forced to ask this question in light of fresh allegations about the issue of Diplomatic Passports for Money, Fraudsters and the apparent tarnishing of Grenada’s reputation at this point in time.
The philosopher George Santayana, warned that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
Regrettably, this perspective seems appropriate to the situation which continues to arise surrounding the continuous and unending parade of different allegations suggesting a thriving Diplomatic Passport for Money Scheme involving Grenada.
The issue first rose its ugly head during the 1995-2003 period of rule of the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The allegation back then was that Prime Minister Mitchell had travelled to the St. Moritz home in Switzerland of convicted fraudster, Ambassador Eric Resteiner to collect US$500,000.00 from him as payment for a Diplomatic appointment.
This allegation forced the government to set up a one-man Commission of Inquiry, headed by Barbadian jurist, Sir. Richard Cheltenham.
The Cheltenham Report made a number of clear recommendations to avoid the embarrassment which such allegations could bring to the country in the future.
Among the most instructive of these recommendations by Sir Richard, was that non-nationals who are given diplomatic positions by government should not be handed Diplomatic passports but instead be allowed to operate on an official passport.
This is common practice in other Jurisdictions where such appointments are granted on an extraordinary basis.
It is for this reason that all Grenadians should find repugnant the recent allegations which have been revealed in the Financial Crimes Blog of Kenneth Rijock, in which he claims that “a victim’ of the Citizenship By Investment Programme complained loudly, after the promised Grenada Diplomatic Passport was not delivered as expected in exchange for the Fee of US$1.0 Million.
The Financial Crimes Blog goes on to state that the victim was forced to approach a particular government minister in Grenada “to obtain a refund” of the money.
The Blog also states that “it is noteworthy that the Minister from Grenada did not deny that it had a role in the Diplomatic Passport, when contacted, but referred the matter to the country’s (Citizenship By Investment) Agency”.
Based on the principle of fair public comment, in the absence of any denial or public statement from the Government, THE NEW TODAY is calling on Prime Minister Mitchell as the CBI Line Minister to affirm or deny the inference that his administration maintains a Diplomatic Passport Programme for wealthy applicants.
If there is no such programme in existence, why did the Government of Grenada or the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme allegedly accept the US $1.0 Million in payment from the victim’s Agent?
Were the funds returned in whole or part and what is the date when such funds were repatriated? Who is the Minister to whom the appeal for the return was made?
There is an obligation by the Government of Grenada, led by Dr. Mitchell to defend the image of the country on the bad publicity being generated by these allegations and inferences both at home and internationally.
The administration should be concerned that Grenada is once again placed in the spotlight on the CBI programme and this could not be good for business, particularly if such business includes the trading of Diplomatic Passports for Pay.
The Prime Minister as Minister responsible for Citizenship cannot afford to be silent. Nor can the Minister spoken about in the blog remain unidentified. After all Grenadians deserve to know that there is at least one “Good Samaritan” in the Cabinet.
There are several related questions on the allegation that arise in the minds of “right thinking Grenadians”, on this particular issue of diplomatic passports for sale – what would have signaled to the ‘victim’ or to the Agent representing the victim that there was at least an opportunity to engage in the exchange of money for passport in the first place?
Who would have provided this Agent and others with the reasonable assurance that a Diplomatic Passport could be had for a price, so much so that US $1.0 Million would be wired to an Official account in Grenada?
Is this only the proverbial “Tip of the Iceberg”?
Grenadians need to know – if any and how many – non-Grenadians received Diplomatic Passports in exchange for pay in the past five years.
The people have a right to know who are all the persons with diplomatic passports that are representing them internationally.
Does the Government of Grenada not consider it good public accountability to notify us about who our Diplomatic Agents are? Should we not hold our Government accountable to the same standards that are now recognised globally?
Even as this editorial is being prepared, the NNP Spin Doctors are already actively at work, but even Joseph Gobells, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda made famous by his quote that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes truth, would concede that there is an alternative more powerful – the truth.
Martin Luther King reminded us that “Truth crashed to the earth will rise up still”.