Is PM Skerrit being investigated by the US, after arrest of Ex-Dominican Diplomat, Alireza Monfared?
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit denies that he is being investigated by US authorities, following the recent arrest of Iranian National Alireza Monfared after an international manhunt, based on allegations that he sold a Diplomatic Passport to Monfared. An Article to that effect recently surfaced on an internet blog site, written by Kenneth Rijock, a banking lawyer who for ten years allegedly became a career money launderer, and who eventually became a compliance officer, specializing in Enhanced Due Diligence, and a Financial Crime Consultant.
In an address that was reportedly made from Greece early on Saturday morning (28th January 2017), where the office of the Prime Minister announced that he was on a working visit, Mr Skerrit described the entire affair as a “treasonous campaign” by members of the opposition and “their allies abroad.”
Prime Minister Skerrit stated, “For the record, I have not been approached, nor have my assistance been sought in any of the matters referred to in this article. I have been assured that I am in no way considered a person of interest, or relevance, to the sanction evasion case, nor any case in Iran against Mr. Monfared.”
In his article, which spread throughout social media, Rijock alleged that reliable sources confirmed that Mr Skerrit was under investigation by an agency of the United States, but he did not name the agency.
The article stated that “The investigation is said to be into Skerrit’s actions, in facilitating the delivery of a diplomatic passport to a known international sanctions violator, Monfared, who was a part of a massive 400 million dollar Iran oil-for-gold sanctions evasion operation, involving his alleged partners, Babak Zanjani, and Reza Zarrab; Zarrab is awaiting trial in US District Court in New York. Whether Skerrit will later be named as a co-conspirator in the Iran sanctions case cannot be determined at this time, but considering the zeal with which the United States Department of Justice is conducting that case, and given the amount of money the Zarrab organization earned, for selling Iranian oil, in violation of international and American sanctions, he could face a very, very long prison sentence. Obviously, Skerrit failed to conduct his own due diligence, or he would have learned that Monfared was operating in very dangerous waters, against the world’s most powerful adversary.”
However, in his address, PM Skerrit dismissed the allegations, describing them as “a carefully crafted smear job, which pieces together snippets of truths to create a completely false story. How one can sit and create a link between the regular issuance of a diplomatic passport, to an alleged violation of international sanctions, is certainly incredible to behold”. He declared that if any information is requested from him, he would be willing to assist; he added “However, I have no information that would be of any relevance to this matter”.
Mr Skerrit attempted to assure citizens of Dominica, both at home and abroad, that the entire matter is a treasonous campaign by opposition forces and their allies abroad. He said such a campaign will not succeed in distracting the government “from the important work that we have to rebuild this country, or in undermining the progress that we are making, in order to get rid of Roosevelt Skerrit.”
He said “This is no longer about the political demise of Roosevelt Skerrit. This is a calculated, targeted and dishonest attack on Dominica. All right-thinking nation-loving Dominicans need to take a stand against the antics of Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and his UWP cohorts, and say enough is enough. Stop before it is too late. As a responsible Country, we have to condemn this calculated actions on their part, all geared towards undermining the economic well-being of Dominica.”
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