True to Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s word, the government of Antigua & Barbuda has revealed a list of 186 nationals and nonnationals holding diplomatic passports, but some of them may not retain that privilege much longer.
This is because the Passport Office is still in the process of a passport recall and reissuance according to a revised policy for appointing diplomats and issuing passports. Browne’s last statement to OBSERVER media regarding diplomatic passports and the list of holders was, “We’ve stopped giving pearls to swine.”
On Thursday, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anthony “Mamba” Liverpool said, “A recall has been in process since February. It’s slow but passports having been coming back in – particularly those who are no longer eligible based on the new criteria.”
According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister which was issued with the list, there are 25 non-nationals and in some instances their spouses, who have diplomatic passports. Some of the more high-profile individuals can be easily researched online.
Liverpool said, where no designation is given for someone on the list it is likely because that person’s appointment may still be awaiting confirmation from the government of the country to which they have been appointed.
Abdul Sattar Dero is named as “Ambassador atLarge” in the list and according to prwebme.com, is the Chairman of the Sweet Homes Group of Companies. The same website reports that Fawad Sattar Dero is the Managing Director of the Group. Browne and Foreign Affairs Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez are pictured with the two men in the UAE on October 27, 2014 while on an official visit.
Dr Aly El Dakroury is listed as Ambassador to Cyprus. In November of 2014, OBSERVER media reported that Dr Dakroury received his instruments of appointment from Governor General Sir Rodney Williams. The website ctrustglobal.com reports that Dr Aly El Dakroury is the president and founder of Caribbean Trust Immigration, and showed pictures of him with Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt, and spoke of him contributing to that country’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP).
Mohamed El Zohbi appears on the list of those who have diplomatic passports but without any designation such as ambassador, or consul or even spouse. The Facebook profile of a Mohamed El Zohbi makes reference to the Sweet Homes Group of Companies and displays a profile picture of the El Zohbi with Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Vitaly Kryuchkov, appears on the list with no designation. He signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government in June 14, 2014 on behalf of the firms, Technology, Development & Investment Ltd and Devcon Ltd on a hotel and high-end real estate development. His firm appears to have ties with St. Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programme.
Ahmed Oleiwi Al Hassani, appears on the list as Ambassador to Iraq but the PS Liverpool said this was an error. OBSERVER media had reported months ago that Oleiwi was never confirmed and his appointment as a designate was rescinded. Oleiwi is a multi-millionaire whose 2,000 to 4,000-unit condominium project at Five Islands was coined the ‘Iraqi Village’. His appointment as a diplomat was part of an aborted scheme to open the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) to Iraq through the establishment of an embassy in Baghdad.
Ramdas Madhav Pai is listed without a designation but Liverpool said he is a special envoy. Pai is the chairman of Manipal Group who purchased the American University of Antigua (AUA) in 2009. The Manipal Group is an educational, healthcare and research firm which has established colleges in India, the United Arab Emirates and Antigua & Barbuda.
Ivan Todorov is listed as an honorary consul. He is a Bulgarian law professor who was appointed in June 2015 after the Bulgarian government gave the green light to Antigua & Barbuda to open an honorary consulate in its capital Sofia.
Julia Vivi “Vivian” Wang, appears on the list but Liverpool said her passport and diplomatic status have been revoked. She is accused of paying former United Nations General Assembly president John Ashe for facilitating the appointment of her husband and another unnamed Chinese businessman to diplomatic posts in the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Office (ABIO) in Hong Kong China.
Alassad Moudar is listed as economic envoy. OBSERVER media reported in 2015 that the United Progressive Party (UPP) Leader Harold Lovell identified Moudar as a relative of President of Syria, Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
Walid Khalid Issa Taha is listed as an economic envoy. He reportedly made a significant donation to the Government House Restoration Fund backin 2015. The Taha family is a well-known and prominent Iraqi family and the envoy was previously announced as Antigua & Barbuda’s Ambassador to Iraq. It is unknown whether that appointment was ever confirmed by Iraq before it ceased. He is Chairman of Taha Partners Group, a conglomerate of companies ranging from real estate, construction, oil management, food catering, equipment rental, legal services, energy, communications and tourism.
A few other individuals who appear to be nonnationals are named in the list released to OBSERVER Media. However, the PS in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not able to state exactly who each of the 25 non-nationals referred to in the statement from the Office of the Prime Minister were.
In February, the government issued the revised policy – one which Liverpool called “much more rigid” compared to practices of issuance and appointment in the past. The revised policy was publicized in response to heightened concerns about the character of Antigua & Barbuda’s nonnational diplomats.