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The probe is now on!!!

It has finally become official that the Dickon Mitchell-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has passed onto law enforcement bodies a number of documents related to the illegal sale of a diplomatic passport to a Polish national under the former regime of defeated Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

THE NEW TODAY has been calling for a probe into the issue based on information in our possession that the deal was not above board and something sinister had taken place.

It cannot be denied now based on the evidence available that the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) regime was in breach of the Vienna Convention when it came to trading in diplomacy.

A key figure in the investigation in the Spice Isle will be former Minister of Infrastructure Development, Norland Cox who has made some very important utterances on the U.S$140, 000. 00 funds that were sent by the Polish individual to the NNP South St George office at the height of the June 23 general election campaign.

The charge levelled by Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is that he had seen a Cabinet Conclusion in which US$290, 000.00 should have been collected by the State for the sale of the passport but there is a receipt for only US$150, 000.00 and that US$140, 000.00 ended up in the NNP branch office.

It is clear that the allegation borders on an act of fraud.

Five of the key persons in the investigation will be the former Prime Minister as Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Cabinet Secretary Ruth Rouse, as well as the former Foreign Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph and ex-government ministers Norland Cox and Nickolas Steele who played key roles in the NNP South St George constituency.

Ex-Minister Joseph has stated that he was the one in the Cabinet who negotiated the arrangement with the Polish national on the appointment as a Grenada diplomat.

The commercial bank where the funds were deposited will also be a significant player in the investigation.

It is doubtful that the bank would have received such a large amount of funds from outside of the country and did not pass on the relevant information and documentation to the then FIU that was known to be controlled by the powers-that-be within the hierarchy of the NNP powerful machinery that maintained a stranglehold on the affairs of the State.

Even the FIU might have to be investigated separately on its own conduct in the episode as the bank in question is duty bound by law to inform the agency of such a transaction which should include a declaration of source of funds and for what purpose.

The NNP South St George office will have to provide proof through a paper trail that it was involved in some kind of negotiation with the Polish national for the financial contribution for the election.

THE NEW TODAY never trusted at any time the FIU and its hierarchy that was a creature of the NNP administration of Keith Mitchell.

New information has also surfaced that someone linked to NNP South St George branch did collect US$10,000.00 as Finder’s fee for luring the Polish national to engage with the Keith Mitchell-led government on becoming an Ambassador-at-large in exchange for a monetary reward.

In diplomacy the exchange of funds for the selling of a diplomatic passport is referred to as “a token of appreciation for the gift” and not bribery payment.

The investigators will have to dig deep in light of statements made by ex-Minister Cox which seems to suggest that NNP South had more than one account in operation and that he did not have any access to one of these accounts.

If Cox is correct then it begs the question who are the controllers of the other account and did the US$140, 000.00 end up there and not in the one in which Cox who was the Caretaker for the South is very familiar with in his dealings on behalf of the party.

This is very important as information seems to suggest that on the eve of the June 23 general election, a high up figure in the NNP government did remove over $125, 00.00 in cash from an account in the commercial bank that did receive the funds from the Polish national.

The investigators should probe whether it is true or false that this large cash withdrawal took place sometime after 3.00 p.m. when the bank had already closed for the day. If so, why and for what purpose?

It is also worthy of note that Cox made a public statement to the effect that he did not benefit from any foreign donations in his campaign as it was all local contributions, so the NNP has a lot of explaining to do in convincing even the youngest child in the country that the Polish money was a financial gift for the June 23 general election.

One seasoned lawyer is of the belief that the investigation should focus on the issue of money-laundering as someone might have used deceitful means involving the NNP South St George account to bring money into the country for his/her personal use and not for political campaign purposes.

This Diplomatic passport sale issue is not only a matter of interest in Grenada but will extend beyond the boundaries of Grenada as the Polish authorities will also be keen to know whether their own financial laws were broken by their citizen who might have been hiding away large sums of money from them in order to avoid tax obligations.

THE NEW TODAY would also like to make some passing comments on the failure of candidates from both NNP and NDC to do the necessary clean-up act with their campaign material after the June 23 general election.

It is now an eyesore six months after the election to see the amount of election posters and other things on utility poles and elsewhere all over the island.

The Minister responsible for The Environment should instruct the line ministry to contact both the NDC and NNP party offices to get the candidates at fault to do a cleanup in-keeping with the spirit of Christmas.

As part of the transformation agenda, the new Dickon Mitchell-led Congress administration should pass legislation in Parliament for fines to be imposed on candidates in default after a stipulated period to clean up the place of “their mess” that is left over from an election.

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