Grenada and Dominica have hit back following a documentary by Al Jazeera television suggesting that politicians in the Caribbean are involved in a corrupt trade of diplomatic post in exchange for money.
Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit has threatened legal action while Prime Minister Keith Mitchell’s government in Grenada has robustly denied the claims in the heavily publicized programme, Diplomats for Sale.
Al Jazeera also claims politicians in Dominica and Grenada are willing to accept secret campaign contributions from wealthy foreign businessmen in exchange for diplomatic passports.
“The government of Grenada categorically denies the allegations, which were recently made in the media, regarding the CBI Programme, as well as the issuance of Diplomatic Passports,” said a statement released late Wednesday, amid raging debate in Grenada and around the region following the release of the documentary.
“The government further states that no one has made any campaign contribution in order to be appointed as an Ambassador; neither is there any requirement for individuals to make campaign contributions in order to be considered for an appointment”.
Al Jazeera interviewed US businessman Leo Ford who said one of his partners in a Grenada investment scheme was offered a diplomatic role in return for kickbacks on future government projects.
But the television station also admitted several times during the one-hour programme that they found no facts supporting claims that diplomatic postings were being sold
However, Al Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar with 80 bureaus around the world, reported that its investigation reveals Prime Minister, Skerrit allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars for his 2014 election campaign from an Iranian businessman named Alireza Monfared in exchange for an ambassadorship for Dominica to Malaysia.
“People who libel me will find themselves before the courts,” warned Skerrit, as his ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) were preparing for a hotly contested general elections on Dec. 6 against Lennox Lindon’s opposition United Workers’ Party (UWP)
“It was clear to me, as it will be to you that either Linton, the UWP directly or their foreign collaborators provided this baseless information to Al Jazeera for political reasons”.
The Grenada government boasts that its Citizens by Investment Programme (CBI) has been ranked as one of the best-run programmes by the IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions.
The government statement criticized the Al Jazeera documentary as making “unfortunate pronouncements, which have led to confusion”.
“It leaves the erroneous impression that the issuing of diplomatic passports is a natural extension of, or in any way related to the CBI programme. The two are governed separately, and have their own rules for implementation, under clear policy guidelines,” the government statement explained.
“It is categorically false that diplomatic appointments are for sale, and have, in any way, been bought by non-nationals who currently serve the interests of Grenada overseas.”
About 15 years ago, United States conman Eric Resteiner, who is still serving time in jail for fraud, claimed he handed a million dollars to Prime Minister, Mitchell for being appointed ambassador at large.
However, Mitchell said he only received $15,000 for travel expenses and an inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.