CBI Bank Accounts Under Scrutiny in Dominica
Although there has been no official word, either from foreign banks in Dominica or the Roosevelt Skerrit administration, that government citizenship by investment (CBI) accounts have been closed, there is, however, speculation in Roseau and elsewhere that the banks are becoming wary that some of the CBI funds held in government bank accounts could be tainted.
Regional broadcaster Jerry George is among those addressing that matter.
He said the diplomatic passports issue and the CBI funds concerns can lead to further trouble for Caribbean banks losing their corresponding banks status with international banks intent on implementing de-risking policies.
“I said last week that we are playing with our corresponding banking relations, I said it. I made the point that all of this is happening with Dominica and the CBI programme, could well accelerate or bring back to the fore this whole question of our corresponding banking relations. Well, Dominica is beginning to feel it, because I have been reliably informed that the three foreign banks in Dominica have closed the government’s investment accounts. Any account that is bringing monies in from these citizenship by investment programmes, have been closed. The foreign banks are protecting their corresponding banking relations,” George said.
However as indicated, there has been no official confirmation that the foreign banks in Dominica have acted against CBI accounts.
Reliable sources indicated, though, that the concern appears to have been raised among CBI agents who met this week, pointing to a possible trend that the accounts that deal with CBI funds are being scrutinized with suspicion.
WINN FM understands that in at least one case an agent has been informed that the financial institution concerned is not happy with CBI funds being lodged in that individual’s account with the bank.
WINN FM understands too that, in relation to another foreign bank in Roseau, funds sent to the government CBI account there have been returned to the applicant without any notice to the agents serving that applicant.
Those concerns appear to be growing in Dominica following the arrest by Interpol of Iranian Alireza Monfared.
The Iranian, who had a Dominica diplomatic passport until a year ago, is accused of helping to embezzle billions of dollars while Iran evaded international oil sanctions.
Monfared’s sanction busting activity, while allegedly holding a Dominica diplomat passport, is reported to have led US authorities to initiate an investigation of Dominica’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit.
Skerrit has brushed aside the talk of such a probe while denying claims that his government sells diplomatic passports to foreigners of ill repute or shady characters.
Meanwhile, financial crime analyst Kenneth Rijock in his latest blog, quotes from what he says is advice directed at agents of the citizenship by investment programme in Dominica.
It says in part: “Please take notice of persistent rumors, involving the actions, by both local and international banks located in the Commonwealth of Dominica, that are reportedly notifying customers, who have funds on deposit that were profits from the tainted diplomatic passport program, that those funds will no longer be welcome, means that substantial amounts of dollars will probably soon be in transit, looking for a safe haven elsewhere. Your risk-based compliance program requires that you decline such deposits.”
It says further, “Should your bank, or non-bank financial institution, accept these funds, which may be later designated as the proceeds of crime, you run the risk of involvement in a money laundering prosecution, for willful blindness, given the recent disclosures about the likely criminal source of funds of a number of individuals who obtained diplomatic passports, outside the citizenship by investment (CBI) program operated by Dominica, and who allegedly paid clearly excessive fees to obtain them”.