Attorneys acting for citizenship consultants Henley & Partners have denied that the firm had any knowledge or involvement in an alleged scheme to obtain a diplomatic passport from the government of Grenada for a Ukrainian businessman in exchange for a payment of US$1 million.
Specifically, Henley & Partners assert that a purported copy of a wire transfer for such a sum, ostensibly to the Wells Fargo account of Henley Global in Singapore, is "clearly bogus", "faked" and "created maliciously".
The situation first came to light in regional government circles on October 27, 2016, when the businessman in question sent an email to the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, saying that he had been dealing with “a person called Chris who represents Henley and Partner who according to him are authorized as agents and advisors to Antigua and St Lucia.”
Browne categorically told the Ukrainian that his government would not countenance any sale of a diplomatic passport and advised him to move swiftly to recover his funds.
“Chris” has now been separately identified as the former managing partner of Henley & Partners Caribbean, who, it is claimed, has since apparently left the firm, even though a formal notice from Henley & Partners had said he continues a relationship with the firm.
However, according to the attorneys, there is nothing sinister to read into the fact that he no longer works for Henley & Partners.
“He was made redundant from his role as managing partner Caribbean, as our client has well-performing managing partners in each of the Caribbean countries in which it operates. His role was no longer necessary, and it was not possible to offer him another opportunity within the business, so he parted on amicable terms,” they said.
In his explanation to Browne, the Ukrainian businessman continued: “My dealings with Chris began early this year where we discussed that a diplomatic passport to be issued as I do have a genuine need for this. At the time this gentleman showed me proof and satisfied me that he was connected to your country by showing me correspondence from the prime ministers of Caribbean countries in form of emails.”
The individual in question told Browne he had paid US$1 million for a diplomatic passport and offered proof of transfer. However, he became “worried and frustrated” when he did not receive the promised passport and “Chris” would not return his calls.
He also told Browne that he had recently met with another person who it appeared was in a similar situation.
While acknowledging that he was unsure as to exactly which Caribbean country was supposed to be providing him with a diplomatic passport, the person sought Browne’s help in tracking down his “application and the status of it and when this passport could be issued.”
Browne responded that “we do not sell diplomatic appointments; therefore, the country concerned could not be Antigua and Barbuda”.
“If perchance someone represented that they could sell you an Antiguan diplomatic appointment, you need to move quickly to recover your funds, because that [the sale of diplomatic passports] is not possible under the stewardship of my government,” Browne emphasised.
The following month, on November 14, 2016, the Ukrainian sent the same inquiry to Grenada member of parliament, Alexandra Otway-Noel, then the minister responsible for the Grenada citizenship by investment programme.
Ottway-Noel replied, “We will follow up immediately and I will ask our unit to respond to you.”
One week later, on November 21, 2016, the Ukrainian businessman told Ottway-Noel that he had “received confirmation from Chris who has confirmed funds will be returned within three days”.
“I do thank you for your assistance with this matter and taking the time to investigate this,” he added.
Ottway-Noel, whose outdated biography appears on the Henley Global website, resigned in January of this year as a member of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government in Grenada.
According to local media, she had not been enjoying the best of relations with Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who had reportedly been trying to rein her in due to the number of overseas trip made as minister of tourism.
The New Today noted in an editorial at the time, “Reports circulated that in the face of shortage of funds from the central government the female MP was finding financial resources outside of government coffers to make some of these overseas trips.”
In a press statement on Monday, the government of Grenada denied “any knowledge of this allegation or activity”, a position that appears difficult to sustain in the light of emails regarding the matter written by Ottway-Noel at a time when she was a senior government minister.
The government added that it “does not even have a diplomatic passport programme in the first place, and is therefore not in the business of selling diplomatic passports to anyone.”
Gabe, unfortunately no matter how loud you scream and whine for transparency and accountability, behaviors will never change unless we the people demonstrate that at the ballots. We as a people tend to demonstrate a high level of attention deficit. A large number of us often forget the good things Keith Mitchell's administration has done the minute he does something that we do not like me or makes a mistake...too quick to condemn the man. While sone ignorant (illiterate) Jamaicans are the most cruel people in the Caribbean region, Grenadians on the other hand are the most stupid, gullible and easily misinformed and convinced.
By: The Observer 11/4/2017 7:02:54 AM
Come on now! We all know that where the rule of law and principles are concerned, there's no adherence especially where money is involved. Unfortunately, "Money Talks" in almost every and all sorts of deals among most of our Caribbean leaders and local representatives. There are no "Watch dogs" monitoring the unprofessional and questionable activities of Caribbean politicians except the United States Government. And once the USA misses out on something, then it's a go for our Caribbean regional leaders. The adverse to these behaviors is that the people of Grenada and surrounding states are once again subjected to greater restrictions. Remember the Canada visa requirements placed on Grenada and other states...the sale of Grenada'so passport.
By: The Observer 9/24/2017 2:52:41 AM
My Grenada,our grenada here we go again with another CBI/Passport for sale financial scandal under yes this inept greedy green government who once again is dragging our lovely spice isles into another financial mess and what is sad is that this is the same government and their leader the chief financial and scurity officer of grenada who it is said is responsible for transparency and accountability in government and to the voters of grenada, and so we respectfully await a full investigation by government as to what the hell is going on and as to who is telling pokies or as Donald the Trump would say who is sending out this-FAKE NEWS-and who is telling the truth,Mr Chief financial officer we need answers because once again our country is in the world financial headline for all the wrong reasons.