Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has exposed a corrupt trade in diplomatic appointments which has helped to keep some Caribbean politicians in power. With a general election due in Dominica on December 6th, the programme, “Diplomats for Sale” reveals how the leaders of both main political parties in Dominica are said to be willing to accept secret campaign contributions from foreigners wanting the privileges of a diplomatic passport.
Undercover filming reveals how a former Dominican Prime Minister offered to broker a secret deal to make a businessman in Asia, an ambassador for Dominica.
The eighteen month investigation focuses mainly on Dominica and Grenada and reveals how both countries have appointed foreigners to be their ambassadors around the world.
Diplomats for Sale tells the inside story of how an Iranian fraudster, Alireza Monfared became Dominica’s Ambassador to Malaysia. Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera, the Malaysian businessman who says he was duped by Monfared, claims Monfared channelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit to help him win re-election in the 2014 election.
Monfared was eventually arrested by his own Iranian government and in early November 2019 sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for stealing over a billion dollars in oil revenues.
From Grenada the film tells the story of an investment scheme allegedly linked to the offer of an Ambassadorship.
The case echoes the scandal of Eric Resteiner, an American conman, who claimed he handed half a million dollars in cash to Grenada’s Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell as part payment for being appointed an Ambassador at Large. That’s an allegation Mitchell denies, although he admits receiving thousands of dollars from Resteiner for expenses.
The investigation also tracks the story of former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. In 2015, just as she was being investigated for multi-million dollar fraud in Nigeria, Dominica’s Prime Minister personally handed her a Dominican diplomatic passport which potentially gave her immunity from arrest. Al Jazeera also asks whether that passport was linked to Prime Minister Skerrit’s family moving into a luxury New York apartment. That’s an allegation which both Diezani Allison-Madeke and Roosevelt Skerrit deny.
Al Jazeera also investigates how dozens of wealthy international businessmen have been made ambassadors by several Caribbean states to represent them in countries around the world and at the United Nations.
While there is no evidence of wrongdoing on their part or payment for their positions, many of their ambassadorships don’t conform to the UN’s own convention on who should be a diplomat. The 1961 Vienna Convention says ambassadors should normally be citizens of the country and not engaged in professional activity, beyond their full time diplomatic role in the countries they’re appointed to.
DIPLOMATS FOR SALE AIRS AT THE FOLLOWING TIMES
Monday 25th November 2000G
Tuesday 26th November 1200G
Wednesday 27th November 0100G
Thursday 28th November 0600G
Friday 29th November 1200G
Saturday 30th November 2000G
Sunday 1st December 0600G