Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Friday, February 16, 2018

NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN ANTIGUA ? ARE YOU KIDDING ME !



The government's selection of Dominica attorney Anthony Astaphan to investigate Antigua's role in the massive Odebrecht bribery scandal boggles the imagination. Here's why it is a Conflict of Interest on the highest order:

(1) Astaphan was, until recently, the personal attorney for Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Antigua sources allege that Browne is one of suspects in the bribery investigation.

(2) Astaphan is married to a member of Antigua's Bird family, and has reportedly represented that family in the past. A Bird was a previous prime minister of Antigua.

(3) Astaphan has a long history of representing several East Caribbean leaders linked to corruption. How can he possibly render an objective opinion, when his career is replete with dodgy government officials under suspicion for accepting bribes & kickbacks ?

This case is a textbook example of who NOT to choose to conduct an impartial investigation into charges of corruption, on behalf of the ONDCP. Find someone neutral and truly qualified as an objective finder of fact, not an advocate for the worst that the East Caribbean has to offer its voters. It is humbly suggested that a competent investigator, from outside the region, be engaged, to uncover the truth, wherever its takes him.

MARTINELLI APPEALS DENIAL OF HABEUS PETITION, BOND DENIED AS MOOT



Fugitive former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli's attorneys have finally filed their Notice of Appeal from the denial of his Habeus Corpus petition, which contested the order of Extradition entered previously against him. Counsel was apparently waiting for the District Judge to rule on bond, correctly fearing a loss of jurisdiction when an appeal was taken.

The Government's own appeal of the order granting bond was followed by a motion to stay bond , pending the resolution of that appeal, and the District Judge agreed.

Martinelli's counsels' efforts to obtain bond from the Eleventh Circuit were denied as moot, given that the District Court had stayed enforcement of its order granting bond. The appellate court did call for an expedited briefing schedule for the appeal, which will accelerate the progress of the case on appeal.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

IF ANTIGUA'S TOURISM MINISTER WAS IN TRANSIT TO FRANCE, WHAT WAS HE DOING IN LONDON ?



The controversy surrounding the European trip of Asot Michael, the cashiered ex-Minister of Tourism and Investment. continues to raise questions. The people of Antigua & Barbuda are certainly entitled to some straight answers.

These issues remain unresolved:
(1) The minister was en route to a conference in Cannes; why did he not fly to an island in the French West Indies, such as St Martin, Guadeloupe or Martinique, where he could have caught a nonstop flight to France.  Why travel to the UK first ? Was he intending to meet someone there, and reportedly reassure him, and was it the unnamed British national,who had allegedly paid him a bribe, but received nothing in return ?

(2) Was he carrying blank CBI passports, and for what purpose, when he was detained* on orders of the National Crime Agency (NCA), regarding the payment of an illegal "gratuity"?  Though Antiguan authorities state that no passports were listed on the property receipt, our source disputes this.

(3) Why did the minister, now effectively sacked, after his detention and interrogation, travel into Central London ? His destination was the Cannes conference.

(4) Who is the other very senior Antigua government official alleged to be involved in the bribe scandal ? My sources assert that former Minister Michael did not act alone.

Until there are complete answers to these questions, we fear that the Michael scandal will remain troublesome for the Government of Antigua, and a source of concern. There may be  perfectly legitimate reasons for some of these suspicious activities, and we will keep an open mind, as we seek to unravel the mystery.
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* I can see no issues of diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom, as the minister was neither assigned to the UK mission, nor was his secondment to the Embassy accepted by the UK Government. Contrary to popular belief, diplomatic immunity has strict parameters and limits, to come into force and effect.







Wednesday, February 14, 2018

JUDGE STAYS MARTINELLI'S RELEASE ON BOND AFTER GOVERNMENT OBJECTS


The Federal Judge who ordered Ricardo Martinelli released on bond, while his attorneys appeal the Court's order denying his Habeus Corpus petition, has stayed the release of the former president of Panama. The Attorney General objected to his release, and the Court thereafter agreed that the United States would be unable to extradite him to Panama, if he subsequently became unavailable, in  a well-reasoned opinion, that, unlike most of the pleadings in the case, is available to the public for review.

We still have no confirmation concerning precisely what grounds Martinelli's able legal team alleged in their petition. Were the extradition papers procedurally defective, or the Panama extradition statute itself fatally flawed ? We cannot say, but perhaps the appeal will settle those questions in the negative.What about the Panamanian allegations about damaging bordello visit videos of Trump, taken by Martinelli's National Security Agency spies, when trump visited the Trump Ocean Cliub ? So many issues, so little time.


DEFEATED ON THE BATTLEFIELD, ISIS CONTINUES TO RECRUIT IN HISPANOLA AND THE EAST CARIBBEAN




Do you remember what happened to the Tamil Tigers ? Defeated on the battlefield, they continues to employ their agents overseas. Well, ISIS is doing the same thing. It has expanded its recruiting and "enlistment" program throughout the Caribbean. Unemployed and penniless youth in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, and other East Caribbean nations are clothed, given money, converted, trained, assisted with passports, and brainwashed about ISIS'  fabled Middle Eastern "Caliphate."

The next stop is transport eastbound, with airfare, through a third country, all handled by ISIS agents. Why the governments of the region are failing to deport ISIS cadre, and disrupt their financial operations cannot be understood. Bribes are most likely employed to insure that corrupt officials ignore their activities.

The long-term effect of these covert programs cannot be minimized, for those ISIS soldiers who survive combat will eventually return to the region, bringing their radical perspectives with them, together with experience in the field of asymmetric warfare. Will they destabilize the home countries upon their return, or agitate for Shariah laws to be enacted at home ? Will they engage in terrorist financing ?  Either way, the Caribbean states will eventually reap this whirlwind, and they are certainly not now capable of dealing with it. 




Tuesday, February 13, 2018

MIAMI FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS RICARDO MARTINELLI RELEASED ON BOND




The US District Court Judge who denied fugitive former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli's  Habeus Corpus petition has entered an order allowing him to be released on one million dollars cash bond, to Home Confinement (House Arrest). The Attorney General's representative has objected, and taken an appeal of that order.

The Court has not yet ruled on whether to stay the release order, while the Government's appeal of that order is pending. The Court file remains unavailable, so we still do not know the details of Martinelli's petition.

 

ST LUCIA SWIMS IN DANGEROUS MIDDLE EASTERN WATERS

 
There are serious concerns, coming from sources with first-hand knowledge, that due diligence procedures being performed upon St Lucia CBI applicants are below the minimums deemed acceptable for individuals from high-risk jurisdictions. This is a significant issue, as indications are that a large percentage of the applicants are from countries located in the Middle East.

Due Diligence investigations are being conducted, but there is no information available to confirm that the special compliance problems of transliterating from Arabic into English are being addressed by qualified experts, to rule out identity manipulation. Furthermore, this class of applicants rate enhanced due diligence treatment, and there is no indication that it is actually being performed upon these high-risk individuals.

On a Country Risk basis, repeated rumors, regarding the existence of a terrorist training camp inside St Lucia*, believed to be operated by Hamas, which is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization (SDGT), raises questions about the presence and influence of foreign entities. In its zeal to catch up with the other four East Caribbean CBI jurisdictions' programs, St Lucia should remember to prudently address risk issues, for once dangerous elements gain possession of those prized CBI passports, it will be hard, if not impossible, to put the genie back in the bottle. 


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* There have been camps, manned by a number of Middle Eastern terrorist groups, including Al- Qaeda, on nearby Margarita Island (Venezuela), since 2001.

©2018 Kenneth Rijock; Contributed by Kenneth Rijock.