Head of the Grenada Citizenship Investment Commission, Richard Duncan has confirmed to THE NEW TODAY that a questionable “gift” of EC$10,000.00 was delivered to him from a Chinese investor in the south of the island.
Duncan was approached on whether a letter now in circulation on the island about the so-called “gift” was authentic.
“The authenticity of the letter … is not in question,” said the retired Managing Director of the Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited (GCBL).
Duncan took over as Grenada’s CBI czar following the change of government in June when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) defeated the New National Party (NNP) of long-serving Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The new CBI boss declined to comment on whether the money was directed personally at him as the recipient or the passport selling office.
He said: “The matter has been referred to the Integrity Commission on December 15. All further questions and inquiries going forward rest with the Integrity Commission.”
When asked why the matter was sent to the NNP-controlled Integrity Commission of female attorney-at-law Anande Trotman-Joseph and not the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the CBI czar said: “…In our judgment they are the competent authority to treat (with the issue).”
He referred to legislation in place under the Integrity Commission such as Integrity in Public Life and Prevention of Corruption when it involves the granting of gifts.
Duncan acknowledged that since becoming Chairman of the island’s passport-selling scheme known as CBI, it was the first time that he had come into contact with such an offer which many pundits on the island perceive to be an alleged attempt at bribery of a public official.
A high-ranking public officer who viewed the letter felt that it should have been sent directly to the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) for an urgent investigation.
“The police should be called in – attempting to bribe a public official is a crime. Richard (Duncan) did the right thing but this guy must be dealt with. They can’t sweep it under the carpet – you must expose that to the public,” he said.
“ …This can’t continue – these people are very corrupt. The FIU must interrogate this guy,” he added.
According to the senior public officer, this kind of activity with non-nationals who benefitted from Grenadian passports was apparently very prevalent under the former NNP administration.
He said: “I was told of the modus operandi (of) special agents like (name withheld), the guy in (a major government ministry) transporting suitcases of money from these guys to top politicians, in turn the politician contacts in the banks will facilitate deposits as well as agents acting on their behalf purchasing properties on their behalf.”
“This guy knew exactly what he was doing. He was feeling out Duncan to see if he would take it then the amounts would be increased tenfold. This country is corrupt and civil service decimated to the gutter,” he added.
The public officer recalled the Brian Francis episode in which the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance was “crucified” and removed from his post under a former NNP regime when he did not co-operate with a questionable outfit from Europe who had entered into a US$100 million promissory note deal with the leaders of the day in the 1990’s.
Francis confirmed that he received calls at the highest level of the government to sign certain documents but he refused to do so on the grounds that the financial integrity of the country was at grave risk.
He also identified some public officials who had called him to sign-off on the deal on the grounds that they were to benefit financially from about US$17 million from helping to broker the agreement.
Defeated Prime Minister Keith Mitchell was often dogged by accusations of corruption although the U.S government admitted seeing a video-tape recording from convicted fraudster Eric Resteiner in which the ex-Grenadian leader was seen accepting a bribe of US$ 500, 000.00 in exchange for a diplomatic passport.
Just over a month ago, new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell told Grenadians at a Town Hall meeting that he had Cabinet documents in which the NNP government had struck a deal with a Polish national to sell him a diplomatic passport for US$290, 000.00.
The Prime Minister said that only US$150, 000.00 ended up in the coffers of the government in the Treasury and that the other US$140, 000.00 had been diverted to the NNP South St George constituency branch which has an account at a commercial bank in the city.
PM Dickon Mitchell told Parliament that he has sent over the documents to the Integrity Commission to investigate the issue despite claims from the NNP that the deal was for US$150, 000 and not US$290, 000.00.