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Commentary: My response to Herbert Volney – An apologist for governmental misconduct on Dominica

Anthony W Astaphan:

Dear Editor,

Gabriel Christian’s feigned outrage is like Johnny come lately after being denied his many requests for diplomatic passports for friend or clients, and more startling his request and proposal for an exclusive 3 year contract to run and control the CIP.

In 2004 Gabriel Christian besieged Prime Minister Skerrit to grant diplomatic posts and passports to his friends and client. The following are some of the many emails exchanged with Gabriel, which show his pursuit of diplomatic passports.

“From: Richard Stevens To: GABRIEL CHRISTIAN cc:
Date: Tue, 05 oct 2004
Subject: AL TARRAH
DEAR GABE
I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF ANY DIRECT CONTACT WAS MADE
WITH DR. AL TARRAH AND WHERE THINGS STAND ON HIS
POSITION AS HONORARY CONSUL. ALSO, IS THERE STILL THE INTENTION TO HAVE PRINCE ERMAIS VISIT AND HAVE A
REPRESENTATIVE APPOINTMENT? DICK

On Tue, 9/28/04, [email protected] wrote:

On the letter that the Qatari European section chief helped us draft, I cannot tell whether it even went or not. The PM had it. In my presence, he handed it to Ferrol for action. No word from anybody since.

I respect him too much to push on that visit. So, at this time I would scratch Q. If you believe my presence in Kuwait could serve some useful purpose let me know, But even there I am unsure if Ferrol advised Dr. Al Tarrah to arrange our official portion of the visit with their foreign affairs office. I want the comrade to be accorded some state honors, even where our local consul, Dr. Al Tarrah, would host a private reception with his business friends.

Advise re Kuwait. Did you see the awards? Did you speak with him? Gabe”

Gabriel even drafted a letter for the Prime Minister to sign. That letter read

‘Gentlemen, I am appreciative of the work you have been doing to help promote the interest of Dominica in the Diaspora and beyond. My government recognizes that it can never rely solely upon salaried diplomats or advisors to market the investment prospects and other potentialities of this country. We need genuine, patriotic, goodwill ambassadors such as yourselves.

[These are words of Gabriel Christian and submitted to the Prime Minister by Gabriel.]

I have reviewed the submitted profiles of HIH Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie- Haile Salassie and Dr. Dick Stevens and the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica would be proud to have them both serve in advisories capacities on how to take the process of our national development forward. Please convey to them my sincere appreciation of their willingness to serve and my commitment to formalizing and regularizing their appointments as Honorary Consuls.

The third quarter of 2004 is nonetheless the period that has been set aside for a review of our diplomatic and consular services and other representatives abroad. There are currently several non-performing Consuls, whose appointments the Government will have to review. We are also keen on identifying a new cadre of individuals who would take serious and deliver upon their promise of assistance to Dominica.

Your nominees HIH Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie-Haile Salassie and Dr. Stevens are the caliber of individuals we are seeking to attract. We should therefore which for their appointments to coincide with public announcements on the rationalization of the consular and diplomatic services offered by Dominica and the installation of a new group of eminent international personalities, who, like they, will be charged with seriously promoting and seriously promoting and creating meaningful opportunities for our country.I am hopeful of our completing this exercise for our 2004 Independence Celebrations and would appreciate very much if your nominees could avail themselves for a major national consultation in Dominica at that time.

In the interim it would be appreciated it both gentlemen could outline for us some of the priority initiatives that will be occupying their attention and comprising their efforts during their first year of tenure so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can create a programmatic formula and outline realistic objectives of the programme to the public of Dominica.I trust that you will appreciate the need for us to thread carefully and in a structured manner in these matters. I look forward to your continued expressions of support and good wishes for the work of the coalition government on behalf of the people of Dominica,’

Gabriel Christian did not end his pursuit of Roosevelt Skerrit in 2004.

In 2013 and 2014 Gabriel Christian approached Roosevelt Skerrit with a proposal which would allow him and his friends or clients EXCLUSIVE control of the CIP for up to 3 years.

On the 30th July 2013 Gabriel Christian wrote Prime Minister Skerrit as follows

“From: “Gabriel J. Christian”
Date: July 30, 2013, 11:54:53 AM EDT
To: PM Skerrit
Subject: Response to Questions raised at Cabinet re New Dominica Investment Fund and Answered by Mike Murphy from Saudi Arabia today

Dear PM:

These are some of the questions raised during the meeting with the acting PM and cabinet members; the answers follow. Note that things are at a standstill at this time, pending a GoCD mandate that we proceed with this opportunity to set up the development fund with the surplusage above and beyond the normal and customary ECD program. As the PP explains those monies would be invested in Dominica centered projects. The requisite language can, and will, be engaged to assure same, with GoCD representation on the BOD. Do note that we are striving for is a Dominica centered private investment fund mechanism which – ultimately – overseas Dominicans can also investment in directly or in the derivative businesses (hotels, factories, energy plants) which are spawned therefrom. See below:

1. Where will the funds be escrowed or invested pending placement on Dominica based projects? PATTON & BOGGS, LP (WASHINGTON, DC, ABU DHABI, DOHA, DUBAI, RIYADH) IN THEIR CENTRAL ESCROW ACCOUNT FOR THE GENERAL PARTNERS OF NDIF.

2. What shall be the composition of the managing board?

GENERAL PARTNERSHIP BOARD CONSISTING OF:
HIH PRINCE ERMIAS SAHLE
SELASSIE HAILE SELASSIE
LIJ DAWIT YOHANNES
GABRIEL CHRISTIAN, ESQ.
MICHAEL P. MURPHY, KM
(REPRESENTING GBS) INVESTMENT MANAGERS- SEARCH COMMITTEE FORMED BY GP, AND UNDER GUIDANCE OF MICHAEL P. MURPHY, KM
PRIVATE INVESTMENT COMMITTEE- TBD, WITH MAJORITY
BEING FROM GP
PRIVATE- PUBLIC INVESTMENT COMMITTEE- TBD, WITH SAME
MEMBERSHIP OF PRIVATE INVESTMENT COMMITTEE PLUS 2 GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATiVES

3. What deductions re management fees are being considered at this time? FEES FOR GOVERNMENT CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM DEDUCTED UP FRONT, INVESTMENT MANAGER FEES TBD- TYPICALLY IN RANGE OF 1.5% OF DEPLOYED CAPITAL THINGS ARE VERY POSITIVE ON THIS END, BUT NOW AT STANDSTILL UNTIL I GET SOMETHING IN WRITING; THE MAIN CONCERN ON THIS END IS IF THEY MAKE A $1MILLION INVESTMENT CAN WE MAKE SURE THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY GETS PASSPORTS, WITHOUT DILUTING TO MUCH OF THE INVESTMENT FROM THE FUND- LIKE 100K TO THE GOVERNMENT AND 900K TO THE FUND IS IDEAL, BUT NEGOTIABLE.

I AM AS CONFIDENT AS EVER

Gabriel J. Christian, Esq.”

On the 26th December 2013 Gabriel Christian again wrote Prime Minister Skerrit as follows

‘From: Gabriel Christian [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013 4:05 PM
To: ‘[email protected]
Cc: ‘[email protected]’; Gabriel Christian
Subject:

Dear Prime Minister:
First, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year for the Government and people Commonwealth of Dominica. You will see by the attached MOU that we have assembled an esteemed, well respected, strategically located, and capable team with a history of meaningful project delivery on Dominica, and elsewhere – particularly in the Gulf region. Of important note is the role on this team of Saad Wakas (who you met) and Dr. Omar Fisher, both highly experienced in delivering on project finance in the Gulf region and elsewhere. Dr. Fisher – worked with the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in Washington, DC from 1983-1992 and his bio (attached, as with all others) speaks volumes as to the human resource capacity we have brought to this effort. It is our hope that you/your cabinet colleagues will allow us the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica (GoCD) to promote foreign direct investment on Dominica in the manner proposed.

As soon as the MOU, is reviewed, edited as need be, and executed, we are prepared to move smoothly. Once the GoCD has executed, we shall execute a copy and PDF same to your Chief of Staff, Mr. Nanthan, who must be commended for getting this along.

Do note that since our meeting, we have spared no effort to move this process along in quick order, being fully cognizant of the need to boost the economic fortunes of an island I am proud to call home.

Finally, be assured of our highest consideration in this matter.

Very best regards,

GJC.”

Gabriel Christian went further. He actually prepared a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Government’s approval. The Preamble of this MOU said

‘This new approach, which we title here as Citizenship by Economic Development Program (CEDP), allows for a Participant/Subscriber in a to-be-established Economic Development Fund (EDF) to gain Dominican citizenship coincident with investing a sum certain in designated development and infrastructure projects that create employment, transfer skills and technology in such sectors as: industry, real estate/resort development, education institutions, data-processing technology, communications, agriculture and agri-business, education and training, or similar development oriented projects with positive social impact on- island.’

Options A and B of this MOU contained these important words
“All standard and customary character, criminal and other background checks shall apply as in the fashion required by the existing ECP.”

From 2004 to 2014. I rest my case, and reserve my comments for another time.