Prime Minister, Dickon Mitchell has released as promised the receipts that show separate sums of USD 50,000.00 and USD 90,000.00 were wired to the bank account of the New National Party’ (NNP) South St. George Constituency Office weeks before the June 23 General elections by a Polish national who also paid US$150,000 to the Government of Grenada in exchange for a diplomatic appointment and diplomatic passport.
Speaking in Parliament to end the debate on the 2023 Budget, the Prime Minister disclosed that the receipts will be sent to the Integrity Commission, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) which have the power to investigate the issue.
PM Dickon Mitchell made the disclosure in response to statements made in the Lower House of Parliament by former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell who denied claims from the Prime Minister that monies from the sale of the diplomatic passport were diverted to the NNP party office.
The receipts were circulated last week Friday by the Government Information Service (GIS) in the wake of the challenge from Dr. Mitchell for new PM Dickon Mitchell to present to the nation the Cabinet Conclusion outlining that the figure due to the Treasury was US$290, 000.00.
In an interview with reporters after the delivery of the 2023 budget statement earlier this month, Dr. Mitchell called on Prime Minister Mitchell, who did not refer to the allegations in his maiden statement, to apologise to the nation for the accusations leveled at the previous NNP Cabinet members at a Town Hall meeting that a Polish national paid USD290, 000.00, in exchange for diplomatic status but US$140, 000.00 was diverted into the NNP coffers.
“It is regrettable that I was challenged to prove (the) obvious when the focus should have been on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure,” stated PM Mitchell, who informed the House that “the Honorable leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition is suggesting based on his remarks made in this Honourable House, that I am making it up.”
“…I will not stand here and have suggestions made that when I speak to the nation I am intentionally lying or misleading the public,” PM Mitchell declared.
The Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme, which provides options for non-nationals to obtain Grenadian citizenship with visa-free access to 146 destinations, has been on the receiving end of severe criticisms since its introduction after the 2013 General Elections, in which Dr. Mitchell, and his NNP, were voted back into office to serve two consecutive terms in office.
The contentious issue involving the sale of a Grenada diplomatic passport to the Polish national surfaced in an international publication in October which linked a sacked diplomat from Antigua to the arrangement.
The report said in part that the former Antigua government official was at the center “of a seemingly massive corruption scheme involving an illegal sale of a Grenada diplomatic passport to a questionable individual that involves cash exchange with several former ministers.”
About three (3) years ago, there was an Al Jazeera documentary entitled “Diplomats for sale’ which called into question the diplomatic appointments made by the former NNP regime of Dr. Mitchell under the CBI programme.
U.S. investigative journalist David Marchant had also accused Dr. Mitchell of accepting a bribe payment in June 2000 of US$500, 000.00 in a briefcase in St. Moritz, Switzerland from convicted fraudster Eric Resteiner for a diplomatic passport.
Dr. Mitchell denied the allegation and claimed that he had only received “approximately US$15, 000.00” from Resteiner as reimbursement for travel expenses on a trip to Europe.
The former chief of security of Resteiner, Timothy Bass, in an affidavit filed in a U.S. Court said that he had videotaped the transaction, and it was the second payment of US$500, 000.00 given to Dr. Mitchell for the diplomatic position.
There are reports that the first payment was allegedly made to Dr. Mitchell in Grenada when he met privately with Resteiner on his luxury yacht that was anchored on a beach in the south of the island.
When the NNP lost the election in 2008, the then Attorney General Jimmy Bristol, and current Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Christopher Nelson flew to the United States to meet with U.S government officials to view a videotape of the Mitchell/Resteiner episode and had to take an oath not to reveal the contents of what they had witnessed.
Since taking office in June, the Congress government of PM Dickon Mitchell has recalled diplomats and appointed a new 6-member CBI committee, chaired by retired Banker and Economist Richard Duncan, to carry out the work of the passport-selling scheme, which has proven to be a major source of revenue for the Government of Grenada in the last eight (8) years.