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PM Skerrit,left, and US Embassy logo
PM Skerrit,left, and US Embassy logo

They won't talk about it. At least not directly.

The United States embassy in Barbados will not confirm or deny a report by Kenneth Rijock, the American financial crime consultant, intelligence analyst and self-confessed former money launderer, that prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit is under investigation by Washington in connection with a diplomatic passport for then Iranian fugitive Ali Reza Ziba Halat Monfared.

"U.S. Embassy Bridgetown routinely cooperates with law enforcement authorities across the region. However, our policy is to not comment on the status or existence of investigations," an embassy spokesman told The Sun in response to an email seeking confirmation of the probe.

However, a source with close contacts in the US government told The Sun the issue is one of serious concern to the US department of homeland security, particularly considering the latest problem over Iran's weapons test.

"It's not just on the radar, it's in the crosshairs of homeland security," the source said.

Despite denials by Skerrit that he was under investigation, Rijock remains adamant that a probe was ongoing, insisting there was no way Washington would alert the prime minister that it was investigating him.

"I am confident that the information is correct," he told The Sun in a telephone interview from Key Biscayne, Florida. "I got the information about the criminal investigation from a law enforcement source."

Of equal concern to the former convict who spent two years in jail on racketeering charges, were the number of "dodgy people" who end up with Dominican diplomatic passports.

As a former money launderer who has since assisted US and Canadian law enforcement agencies and US financial institutions with money laundering and financial crime investigations, Rijock knows how the crooks operate.

It is for this reason that he has testified three times before US congress on how to improve legislation and how to catch the villains. He believes the prime minister, as well as the minister of foreign affairs Francine Baron, ought to resign over the Monfared scandal.

"His arrogance just amazes me," the enhanced due diligence investigator said of Skerrit. "How many dodgy people plan to uses these passports? What if you're not just coming in with your bags and baggage? What if you're brining in diamonds which you are smuggling in for criminals? What if you are bringing in a small vial that contacts small pox? I don't think Mr. Skerrit understands the gravity of this. He is playing a game with the United States. Will he resign or wait until he is indicted, then says it's political?"

His last comment was an apparent reference to the prime minister's response to the article, in which he sought to paint Rijock as an operative of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).

Rijock denies knowing anyone from the party, although, he said, some opposition members have contacted him since he published the article.

He also questioned the assurances from the ministry of foreign affairs that due diligence had been done on Monfared before he was given Dominican citizenship and, later, a diplomatic passport.

"A simply investigation would have revealed this guy was involved in the biggest embezzlement case in Iran. The ministry of foreign affairs should have known that an Iranian looking for a passport would likely be involved in crime."

Similar doubts were raised by a foreign relations expert about the level of due diligence done on the Iranian, suggesting Government should have contacted Interpol or Cuba for help.

In any event, the official said, it was unlikely any had been done.

"Every time it explodes in their faceā€¦. They come telling the Dominican people about due diligence, and their image is sliding. Right now Dominica has the worst reputation in CARICOM. You wouldn't touch any Iranian with a ten foot pole. I wouldn't give a passport to any Iranian".


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