Though the country’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit announced the suspension of all ties with the ailing former minister until her corruption cases are sorted, two senior officials of the Island have revealed how the ex-minister got her passport.
In a recent interview with policy entrepreneur, Till Bruckner of The World Post, the two Dominica senior officials, Vince Henderson, Dominica’s permanent representative to the United Nations and Emmanuel Nanthan, head of Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Unit, explained in details the due process of acquiring a diplomatic passport.
Explaining how Diezani got the Island’s diplomatic passport, Emmanuel Nanthan said, ‘The same [private] companies perform the same background checks in both cases. These companies are vetted carefully, you can find their names on the CBIU [Citizenship by Investment Unit] website. In the case of Alison-Madueke, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed her file over to a due diligence agency to perform the background check.‘
On the omission of her alleged corrupt charges, Nanthan said, ‘You need to remember that when she went through the background check, she had not been charged with any crimes. She was a highly respected individual. Forbes had named her woman of the year, she had been the chairperson of OPEC in the past.’
‘She was a public figure who was well known internationally. At the time there was no question about her bona fides nor was there any charge or allegation against her of which we were aware. When a due diligence check is conducted on someone today, it looks at the past. It’s not a predictor of the future. Such criticism is not fair on the government. It’s like having a friend and you do not know they were involved in a criminal activity, that doesn’t make you a bad person. When we heard of the arrest, we immediately suspended our relationship with Alison-Madueke,‘ Vince Henderson explained further.
On the allegation that her passport issuance was influenced by the Prime Minister,
Henderson said, ‘The process had been started long before she met with Prime Minister Skerrit. The date of the meeting and the date of the passport is no way an indicator of the length of time of the due diligence process.’
On Diezani’s appointment as Trade and Investment Commissioner for Dominica by Prime Minister Skerrit,
Henderson said, ‘Admittedly, our record on publicizing these things is not the best. For example, when we appointed Ms Frances Del Sol as Trade and Investment Commissioner in Canada, we did not immediately publish the decision. Neither the integrity of the process nor of the person herself were ever questioned in that case, it was just a weakness on our part. We are now reviewing the process and in future may publish such appointments in parliament.’
Henderson however noted that he can’t confirm if Diezani’s diplomatic passport has been recovered by the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica but he noted that the process would involve the High Commission in London and with the upgrade of passports to include biometrics, it might easily be canceled from the home office.
When asked of Diezani is still a citizen of the Island, Henderson replied, ‘Alison-Madueke was never a Dominican citizen in the first place. Diplomatic passports do not come with citizenship, they are issued to facilitate work on Dominica’s behalf.‘