by Linda Straker
The company named in an allegation as receiving US$1 million to provide a diplomatic passport to a Ukrainian businessman — through the Citizenship by Investment programme — is claiming that it has found the originator of the story and is threatening to prosecute any news services which continue to disseminate the article, which it describes as ‘fake news.’
“This fake news matter has now been referred to major law firms in the United States, Canada, and England, and to forensic intelligence specialists who are investigating the case. There are strong indications already as to the originator of this malicious and bogus story, who together with any news services that continue to disseminate this fake news will be prosecuted with the full force of law, as this may be actionable in several jurisdictions,” said a news release from Henley and Partners who earlier this week issued a statement denying that it was involved in selling diplomatic passports.
The article was first seen on a blog operated by Kenneth Rijock. In his 20 August 2017 Financial Crime Blog, Rijock claimed that the businessman made his application through Henley and Partners and wire transferred the money to the company’s account in a Singapore Bank.
He was to get the passport from either Grenada or Antigua, but when Henley and Partners did not provide the passport, personal inquiries were made, and it was discovered that there was no pending application in Antigua, while a Grenada Government Minister arranged for a refund of the money.
Kaisha Ince, Chairman of the Grenada Government’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme has denied reports that a Ukrainian businessman was refunded US$1 million after the country failed to sell him a diplomatic passport. She also made it clear that Grenada does not operate a diplomatic passport-selling programme, but provides regular passports to all who qualify through the island’s Citizenship by Investment programme.
Henley’s new release said that fabricated and defamatory news stories such as the Rijock blog which is based on blatantly forged documents, do a great deal of harm to all Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programmes.
“Besides the significant funds such programmes raise for a country, they also assist in improving the visibility and relevance of smaller nations, by attracting important international investment and creating other global opportunities,” said the release, which claims that Henley and Partners have helped raise more than US$6 billion in foreign direct investment for the region since it began operations 20 years ago.