Dominica lures Bangladesh citizens in laundering money

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Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, UAE, Interpol, Bangladesh, Diezani Allison Madueke, Caribbean

Dominica, a country ruled by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is globally infamous for selling its citizenship including diplomatic positions in exchange for hefty amount of cash; has openly started campaign on social media through sponsored posts luring Bangladesh citizens in laundering cash under the pretense of buying Dominica citizenship and later invest unlimited amount of cash in the controversial nation in legal and illegal businesses, including drug trafficking.

In a sponsored post on Facebook, which has been published on February 1, 2024, Dominica agent says, “Get expert advice from AG Mena, a leading professional services firm in the UAE. Experience our multi-disciplinary approach to your business success!” In also claims, anyone can buy a Dominica citizenship in six months.

Publisher of this sponsored post is an entity named ‘A G Mena’, which operates from Al Ghurair Building, Salahuddin Road, Deira, Dubai, PO Box No. 1, United Arab Emirates. Mobile phone number of this entity is +971-58-528,3665. On its website, this entity says – “A G Mena, UAE’s leading multi-services firm”. On ‘About Us’ page it says, “A G Mena is a leading multi-disciplinary professional services firm headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), providing legal services, corporate services, and citizenship & residency solutions under a single platform.

“We assist foreign and domestic clients through UAE’s complex regulatory environment and advise them with all aspects of establishing and growing their business operations in the region”. It also claims to be affiliated with the New York State Bar Association (NSBA), The Canadian Bar Association and American Bar Association.

In an October 31, 2023 post, A G Mena said:

We are thrilled to announce that our clients, a Bangladeshi family of three with a talented daughter who plans to study in the UK, now has access to a strong second citizenship, which will allow her to pursue top-notch education overseas!

Why obtain a Second Passport for Overseas Study Plans

Endless Possibilities: Explore diverse cultures and expand horizons while pursuing academic excellence.

Access to World-Renowned Institutions: Your children will equipped to embrace the best education the world has to offer.

Cultivating Global Leaders: This passport isn’t just for travel; it’s a key to shaping a future leader with a global career perspective.

Secure your family’s future with the power of dual citizenship.

For more information, contact us on: WhatsApp 058 528 3665.

On October 21, 2022, in a Facebook post A G Mena said:

We are pleased to see that our client, who is a travel enthusiast, is now traveling freely to European countries with his second passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica. Second citizenship will allow you to travel visa-free to 140+ countries including the UK and Europe whilst paying zero taxes on income and wealth.

Feel free to reach out to discuss your queries related to obtaining second citizenship: +971 58 528 3665, +971 4 228 3665.

What is a Dominica passport?

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting (OCCRP) conducted a project titled – “Dominica: Passports of the Caribbean” which is a cross-border investigation into the fugitives, alleged criminals, and politically connected people who have purchased citizenship and passports from the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.

Not to be mistaken for the nearby Dominican Republic, the Commonwealth of Dominica is a small island country in the Lesser Antilles volcanic chain in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Often referred to as “Nature Island,” Dominica is largely covered with tropical rainforest.

Dominica gained independence from Britain in 1978, and its capital Roseau is known for its 18th-century French architecture. The country is home to over 70,000 people, largely the descendants of Africans trafficked as slaves.

Since 1993, the Dominican government has sold citizenship to foreigners. The application requires either a roughly US$100,000 contribution to a government fund, or the purchase of at least US$200,000 worth of real estate in a government-approved development.

Aspiring Dominican citizens must also pay “processing” and “due diligence” fees, which can total to as much as 16 percent of the costs, depending on the type of investment. Additional family members cost between US$25,000 and US$50,000 per person. Documents seen by OCCRP show that passport brokers might also charge tens of thousands of dollars in fees.

If they pass the screening process, investors might be approved within three months of paying these fees — without even being required to set foot on the island. Until July 2023, interviews were not even mandatory.

Successful applicants are then eligible for a Dominican passport, which allows travel to more than 130 countries or territories without a visa or with a visa on arrival, including China, Singapore, and member states of the European Union. Investors are not required to pay taxes if they don’t live on the island.

Dominica’s citizenship-by-investment regulations rule out granting citizenship to people who have “a criminal record other than in respect to a minor offense,” are subject to “a criminal investigation of which he was aware or ought to have been aware”, who pose “a potential security risk to Dominica or to any other country”, or have been involved in “any activity likely to bring disrepute to Dominica”.

Citizenship purchases are handled through government-selected brokers who are supposed to vet applicants along these lines before government officials make the final decision. Over 70 companies are authorized to participate in the program.

Dominica’s government did not respond to requests for comment about how it screens applicants. But over the years, officials have repeatedly claimed the process is thorough. In 2016, Vince Henderson, then Dominica’s representative to the United Nations, told HuffPost that the government’s due diligence “digs deep” into the “personal lives and business dealings” of applicants.

“Those who have something to hide don’t apply in the first place,” he said.

Yet a 2019 US State Department report on Dominica’s citizenship-by-investment program described due diligence as “lax”. The country “does not consistently use available regional mechanisms … to properly vet candidates”, the report said, adding that it “does not always deny citizenship to those who are red flagged”.

OCCRP spoke with half a dozen experts who highlighted how so-called “golden passports,” such as those offered by Dominica, can be powerful tools for misconduct — especially in tandem with financial tools such as anonymous shell companies or secret bank accounts.

A purchased passport can allow people wanted by law enforcement to travel more freely. It can also help sanctions evaders, money launderers, and other financial criminals get around compliance checks.

“If you’re a government official embezzling public funds or a businessperson making dodgy deals, chances are you’re worried about future prosecution”, Eka Rostomashvili of Transparency International, said. “New citizenship — and potentially a new identity — comes in handy if you want to evade law enforcement and prosecution efforts”.

A Dominican passport can also facilitate tax evasion. Under global tax treaties, banks have to report the assets of their clients to authorities based on where these clients live, or where they are taxed. But if someone who bought a Dominica passport falsely tells their bank they are a tax resident of Dominica — which doesn’t tax citizens who don’t live there — they could avoid paying any taxes at all.

2021 paper by the Center for Economic Studies, a Munich-based think tank, found evidence this was in fact happening. After countries introduced citizenship-by-investment programs, bank deposits in tax havens originating from those countries jumped by about US$9 billion, it said.

“Acquiring a new citizenship without moving to the respective country does not affect the tax legally owed to an individual’s true country of residence,” the report said. “It does, however, facilitate tax evasion by providing the individual with the means to circumvent tax information exchange”.

Controversy centering Dominica citizenship

On October 11, 2023, French newspaper Le Monde in a report said, “Over the years, dozens of criminals have paid to obtain citizenship of the Caribbean island and travel discreetly around the globe. Le Monde and its partners expose the abuses of Dominica’s golden passport program”.

On October 13, 2023, OCCRP in a report said, “Nearly a dozen of people bought Dominica passports before going on the run over crimes back home”. This was also published in British newspaper The Guardian.

The Guardian report said, “Dominica’s golden passports scheme – one of the world’s biggest – has according to official declarations raised more than $1bn (£822m) through its citizenship by investment scheme since 2009.

“Its passports are in demand around the world, and a series of international agreements ensure its citizens travel visa-free to 140 countries, including most EU member states.

“However, until now, the names of the individuals who have paid the price tag of at least $100,000 (£82,000) a head to acquire Dominican nationality – in many cases without setting foot on the island – have been difficult to obtain”.

November 27, 2019, Al Jazeera published an extensive report titled “Caribbean officials linked to diplomatic passport sale”, on Dominica citizenship.

It said, “Some of the findings raise questions about the transparency and governance of the scheme, and some are potentially embarrassing for Dominica.

“One buyer had publicly been accused of war crimes before obtaining citizenship, while another had been a colonel and senior security official under Muammar Gaddafi. Citizenship by investment applicants are barred if they have a criminal record but, in one example, a buyer appears to have been jailed for fraud before he secured citizenship. Others have run into trouble since acquiring Dominican citizenship, including one named on Interpol’s wanted red list”.

According to a report published in Vanguard, Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister Diezani Allison Madueke, who embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars, had also succeeded in buying a diplomatic passport from Dominica.

According to the document Diezani Allison Madueke had perfected arrangements with the Office of Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and lobbied to be appointed as Trade and investment Commissioner with effect from June 1, 2015. The offer also entailed the issuance of a Diplomatic Passport on May 21, 2015, with an expiry date of May 20, 2020.

The strange immunity order says: “The President of the Commonwealth of Dominica requests and requires in the name of the Government of Dominica all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary”.

Diezani’s Dominican Republic Diplomatic Passport’s number is DP0000445.

It may be mentioned here that Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is known for selling diplomatic passports in exchange for millions of dollars as bribe – in addition to another few hundreds of dollars that Dominica authorities charge as “passport cost”.

Dominica lures people in laundering dark-money

For decades, Dominica has been luring dark-money holders, including gangsters, drugs and arms dealers, terrorists and corrupt politicians and officials in draining-out cash from their native countries and send to Dominica as well as other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, EU nations, the United States and Dubai. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit maintains his office under the garb of visa agents in a number of countries in the world, including the UK, India, China, UAE and Russia, wherefrom corrupt individuals, terrorists, gangsters and even INTERPOL-wanted criminals are offered services in draining-out millions of dollars to various targeted nations, while they also are offered citizenship of Dominica. In some cases, if the prospective clients are interested, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit offers diplomatic passports against payment of millions of dollars.

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