Despite charges being laid in the United States against its Chinese-born Commercial Attaché to the Grenada Embassy in Beijing, the Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) government in St. George’s said it is not worried about the island’s international image as a result of the development.
Charles Liu who enjoys diplomatic status is the holder of a Grenadian passport through the island’s Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph said he does not see the image of the country being affected as a result of the charges laid against Liu by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Liu has become the first person with a Grenadian economic citizenship passport to be charged following the reintroduction of the passport-selling scheme by the Mitchell government two years ago.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Prime Minister Mitchell recently told some of the island’s Social Partners that government is beginning to see “good” financial returns from the sale of passports.
Liu is considered as the king pin in efforts to raise funds for the much-talked about US$2 billion tourism project at Mt. Hartman.
He along with his wife have been charged with violating U.S anti-fraud laws in connection with a proposed proton cancer treatment business in California involving an EB-5 Immigrant Investor programme.
According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Liu and his wife Zin Lisa Wang raised $27 million for a proton therapy cancer treatment center from 50 investors in China through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme and diverted the money into accounts in China.
The SEC report said that Liu transferred $11 million in investor funds to three firms in China and diverted another $7 million to his and his wife’s personal accounts.
The assets of the investor have since been frozen and a court order was taken out prohibiting them from raising further money from investors or spending remaining funds.
Minister Joseph told reporters at Tuesday’s weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing held at the Ministerial Complex that Grenada’s image is not in question over the fraud charges laid against the Chinese investors.
“Personally I don’t see how it affects the image of the country, remember he is not accused of anything in Grenada. We have not done anything wrong. We have done everything that we’re supposed to do in a legal manner and we continue to act legally…we have not done anything illegal to worry about what effect it will have on Grenada,” he said.
The senior government minister sought to reassure the nation that the Mt Hartman Project will not be affected as there is still interest in it from other parties.
However, he conceded that what will be of concern to government is Liu’s ability to raise funds given his current predicament in the United States.
“He is playing a major role in getting investors to invest in this project. In other words, he is promoting his project in China, the USA, Dubai and other areas to get investors to come to Grenada to invest in the project”, he said.
“…Because he is an investor in Grenada, we are concerned it may be difficult for him now to raise money now for the project in Grenada,” he added.
The Economic Minister disclosed that the government, which is said to be preparing for general elections, is keeping “close tabs” on the Liu issue.
He referred to the case against the Grenada diplomat as “a civil matter” and said that government is waiting to see if it will become criminal to take the necessary actions.
This is an apparent hint from Minister Joseph that the Mitchell-led government has not moved to rescind Liu’s diplomatic position.