BASSETERRE, St. Kitts CMC – The St. Kitts-Nevis government has dismissed opposition claims of a diplomatic row with Canada over the sale of its passports to foreign investors.
“The Government states unreservedly and unequivocally that there has been no diplomatic row or uproar involving St. Kitts and Nevis and Canada over the issuance of diplomatic passports,” according to a statement issued from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Mark Brantley called on the government to provide answers as to how Iranian national was made a special envoy for St. Kitts and Nevis to Turkey and Azerbaijan.
“I…demand of our Prime Minister and Minister (Patrice) Nisbett, (Foreign Affairs Minister) a fulsome and truthful statement addressing frontally the serious international. I demand in particular to know whether in fact, one million US dollars was paid for this diplomatic passport and to whom such corrupt payments were made. I further demand that the diplomatic status accorded to this Iranian National by Cabinet be immediately revoked.”
“Minister Nisbett failed and/or refused to advise the citizenry of this country why this Iranian national who Minister Nisbett states was an envoy to Azerbaijan or Turkey could enter Canada and indicate to Canadian authorities that he had meetings with the Canadian Prime Minister for and on behalf of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“What business did this Iranian national have in Canada and on whose behalf? Canada as we know is thousands of miles away from Turkey and Azerbaijan,” Brantley said in a radio broadcast, calling also for a full investigation into the matter.
In the Parliament on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister, Patrice Nisbett, revealed that the government in January had approved the appointment of Iranian Alizeera Moghadam as a special envoy, after he had acquired citizenship under the Citizenship Investment Program (CIP).
The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office described the allegations made by the opposition as erroneous and misleading and intended to bring the CIP into disrepute.
It said that only persons duly appointed as diplomats of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis were authorized to carry diplomatic passports of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“No diplomatic passport of St. Kitts and Nevis has even been issued to any person other than officials of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis holding diplomatic positions. Diplomatic passports are not issued as part of the Citizenship by Investment Program. Hence it is not possible to obtain a diplomatic passport by making an investment or by any form of payment or consideration,” the statement added.
“Diplomatic appointments are made on the recommendation of Cabinet after a very careful selection process aimed at ensuring that the persons selected are of good character and possess the capacity to advance the development of the Federation through effective representation overseas.
“Neither the Minister of Foreign Affairs nor the Prime Minister nor any other Minister of the Government is authorized to make such appointments except with the approval of Cabinet,” said the statement.
The Denzil Douglas accused the opposition of making “irresponsible and false” false statements “intended to undermine the immense development impact of this program in St. Kitts and Nevis especially in relation to the employment of our young people under the People Employment Program (PEP), our consumers of gas and electricity, our tourism enterprises, our prospective homeowners, our young entrepreneurs, our former sugar workers, and the most vulnerable among us”.