PRESS RELEASE – The significance of our Citizenship Investment Programme (CIP), controversial as it is, will dictate that every facet must be able to withstand strict and constant scrutiny, since it will be involved in the important, sensitive and security loaded issue of the granting of our sovereign citizenship and the right to carry our passport.
The CIP board and unit must be able to withstand interference, manipulation and acts of irregularities and members must be aware of the nature and credibility of persons vying for our citizenship and in some instances diplomatic immunity coverage. Consequently we must be convinced that its operations will be conducted with the utmost of integrity, transparency and accountability and importantly there must be no potential for political influence and interference.
Our awareness of the Juffali appointment was only by chance one year after and courtesy of the British press who blew the story of the use of Juffali’s St. Lucian acquired diplomatic status to block his ex wife’s divorce proceedings. Only then government was forced to hastily acknowledge.
The previous silence together with the exposed intended use of Jufaali’s diplomatic immunity immediately gave good reason for serious concern. That our government vehemently opposed a British request to lift the diplomatic immunity and sent a team to London to plead a case was enough to turn serious concern into high suspicion.
Now, a London high court judge in the clearest of terms has confirmed our high suspicion and declared the whole appointment a farce. The only thing the judge did not and could not say to us was go do the math. But the silence, darkness and many other now known facts easily turns that farce into a fiasco. The loss now will be to Juffali through his pocket but the embarrassment ours courtesy of our government.
We want to suggest all the red flags were there and so due diligence was apparently duly absent. The timing of his divorce matter in relation to his acquisition of diplomatic status appears calculated and interestingly the judge says it’s not the first time Juffali has tried to circumvent a divorce court.
There must have been an unusual and noticeable haste on Juffali’s part to get the appointment and unfortunately for us that seems to have been facilitated. That we now know that sadly he is also ill would have made his ability to genuinely fulfill his IMO duties very questionable. So why would a multi billionaire already in poor health want to be saddled with the demands of representing a small island, hardly known to him?
Surely not to earn a salary! Quid pro quo? The Diabetes Research Centre? The crème de la crème? Is that the kind of due diligence that will be extended to our CIP programme?
Mr. Ernest Hilaire is a likely political candidate and his name circulates as future leader of the SLP. As a potential candidate he should not be holding the appointment of the CIP board chairman? In the Juffali fiasco he was the former ambassador in London and must know the nitty gritty of the appointment and so should our Minister of Foreign Affairs, noticeably extremely silent.
But assume Mr. Hilaire had nothing to do with the Juffali fiasco by happening under his watch he must be held accountable. So, might not a similar occurrence happen under his watch as head of CIP? In light of all the prevailing circumstances Mr. Hilaire realistically cannot expect to stay on as CIP chairman.
Perception will be a critical factor, which cannot just be simply ignored but is a reality to be faced. Where already the CIP in a number of sister islands has been associated with dubious applicants and dealings, our CIP must start and operate in an environment free of even the slightest perception of weakness and irregularities. As we the citizens and the very international community look on and follow this scandalous episode it is incumbent on Dr. Anthony to act and put country first. Resign forthwith!!!!