Categorized | News, Regional

Commentary: Signed, sealed, nothing delivered

Letter of CommitmentFrom left: John Ashe (rear), Teresa Liu, Roosevelt Skerrit, Ng Lap Seng (aka David Ng). Photo: UNOSSC

By Clint Lowe

When Tropical Storm Erika hit Dominica at the end of August 2015, Dominicans were left scratching their heads as to where our prime minister was on such a devastating occasion. Speculation was rife as to where he could be, since he was not in state. This was further complicated by a series of mixed bits of information coming from the government’s press office and close associates of the prime minister.

Upon his return, one of the excuses Mr Skerrit gave the nation for his absence was that he was attending a poverty conference; but that, as is customary with Mr Skerrit, was not entirely the truth. When photographs began appearing on social media, we soon discovered that Roosevelt Skerrit was in Macau, up until that time his favourite stomping grounds.

With those photographs came the revelation that Mr Skerrit had signed an agreement with Ng Lap Seng for the construction of a technology centre in Dominica. Seven months later, Mr Skerrit has not been forthcoming about his trip to Macau nor has he revealed the contents of the agreement with Mr Ng.

Untold requests have been made of Mr Skerrit and of UN officials for access to the details of the agreement he signed with Mr Ng. The calls for information further accelerated after the arrest by US Customs agents of Mr Ng on charges of smuggling over US$4.5 million into the United States. Subsequent to his initial arrest on smuggling charges, Mr Ng has been slapped with a number of other felony charges, including bribery of UN officials. We will return to this in a short while.

Mas in the Cemetery (MiTC) has been relentless in our pursuit of the elusive agreement between Mr Skerrit and Mr Ng. Our colleague, Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press in New York, has pressed UN officials consistently over the past several months for information on this agreement. What was known then, as evidenced by the photograph above, was that it was signed under the auspices of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, headed by Ms Teresa Liu, on August 26, 2015. Ms Liu and other UN officials have been uncooperative in releasing the agreement.

Letter

Letter of Commitment

Utilizing our extensive network of investigators and inside contacts, MiTC is reporting to the Dominican public that we have the agreement signed by Mr Skerrit and Mr Ng.

The agreement you see here was delivered to one of our writers a few days ago. Although broad in scope and with few specifics, the Letter of Commitment (LoC) has a few notable details that ought to be examined.

Returning to the UN bribery scandal that continues to unfold over in New York, you will recall that Mr Ng was charged with bribing UN officials including former General Assembly President John Ashe from Antigua, and former deputy ambassador to the UN from the Dominican Republic, Francis Lorenzo. Two weeks ago Mr Lorenzo pleaded guilty to the charges against him and is said to be cooperating with prosecutors. Mr Ashe is scheduled to appear in Manhattan Federal Court on April 8.

The foundation of the charges against Mr Ng and the others revolves around the attempt by Mr Ng to have the UN approve and pay for the construction of a “Global South-South Expo and Meeting Centre” in Macau. Mr Ng may have determined that bribing Ashe and Lorenzo (who would then use their influence within the UN) increased the likelihood that the Expo centre would be approved and built in Macau, and that the contract would be granted to his company, Sun Kian Ip Group. How did Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit get his hands in that pot?

The LoC between Mr Skerrit and Mr Ng states in part:

“Sun Kian Ip Group Foundation… wishes to provide financial support to the said South-South Technology Transfer Facility for SIDs, as an integral structure of the Member States proposed Global South-South Expo and Meeting Center in Macau.”

Our analysis of this statement suggests that, in its elaborate scheme to get the UN to approve the construction of the Expo Centre in Macau, Sun Kian Ip and its chairman may have sweetened the pot by agreeing to “provide financial support” for a technology centre in Dominica.

We have delved into numerous UN press releases and documents and we could not find anywhere reference is made to a South-South Technology Transfer Facility in Dominica being discussed at any official level. That leads us to suspect that this may have been a spur-of-the-moment opportunity, or close to it, for Mr Skerrit to extract something from Mr Ng. What that may be is open to speculation, but Mr Skerrit has not mentioned this project to Dominicans.

Mr Skerrit has the propensity to inflate the most insignificant to a level totally undeserving of the occasion. Look no further than his welcome home ceremony after having purchased a doctorate in India. Why then, would he not mention a major project like this if it was legitimate?

It is worth noting that Mr Skerrit was the only head of government at a conference of lower-level governmental officials. In fact, the conference on poverty that Mr Skerrit alluded to upon his return was organized by the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (WACAP). Membership in that UN-affiliated organization is targeted towards world cities and the conference is attended by the mayors of member cities.

Roseau, Dominica, is not a member of WACAP. So why would Mr Skerrit be at a conference on poverty organized by a federation of cities of which Roseau is not a member?

Here is Mr Skerrit at the WACAP conference in Macau last August (WACAP Macau). As you can see, there is no reference to a South-South Technology Transfer Center in Dominica in the news release. Where did this idea and the intent of Sun Kian Ip’s financing of the centre come from? This question is even more important when you take into consideration that, fewer than three months earlier, the government of Bangladesh hosted a meeting on financing for the South-South Technology Center. There is no reference in the memo (below) as well as the six-page summary attached to this memo (not pictured) from the Bangladesh finance ministry official of the centre being located in Dominica, nor is there any reference to the Caribbean or Latin America.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Letter of CommitmentFrom left: John Ashe (rear), Teresa Liu, Roosevelt Skerrit, Ng Lap Seng (aka David Ng). Photo: UNOSSC

By Clint Lowe

When Tropical Storm Erika hit Dominica at the end of August 2015, Dominicans were left scratching their heads as to where our prime minister was on such a devastating occasion. Speculation was rife as to where he could be, since he was not in state. This was further complicated by a series of mixed bits of information coming from the government’s press office and close associates of the prime minister.

Upon his return, one of the excuses Mr Skerrit gave the nation for his absence was that he was attending a poverty conference; but that, as is customary with Mr Skerrit, was not entirely the truth. When photographs began appearing on social media, we soon discovered that Roosevelt Skerrit was in Macau, up until that time his favourite stomping grounds.

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With those photographs came the revelation that Mr Skerrit had signed an agreement with Ng Lap Seng for the construction of a technology centre in Dominica. Seven months later, Mr Skerrit has not been forthcoming about his trip to Macau nor has he revealed the contents of the agreement with Mr Ng.

Untold requests have been made of Mr Skerrit and of UN officials for access to the details of the agreement he signed with Mr Ng. The calls for information further accelerated after the arrest by US Customs agents of Mr Ng on charges of smuggling over US$4.5 million into the United States. Subsequent to his initial arrest on smuggling charges, Mr Ng has been slapped with a number of other felony charges, including bribery of UN officials. We will return to this in a short while.

Mas in the Cemetery (MiTC) has been relentless in our pursuit of the elusive agreement between Mr Skerrit and Mr Ng. Our colleague, Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press in New York, has pressed UN officials consistently over the past several months for information on this agreement. What was known then, as evidenced by the photograph above, was that it was signed under the auspices of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, headed by Ms Teresa Liu, on August 26, 2015. Ms Liu and other UN officials have been uncooperative in releasing the agreement.

Letter

Letter of Commitment

Utilizing our extensive network of investigators and inside contacts, MiTC is reporting to the Dominican public that we have the agreement signed by Mr Skerrit and Mr Ng.

The agreement you see here was delivered to one of our writers a few days ago. Although broad in scope and with few specifics, the Letter of Commitment (LoC) has a few notable details that ought to be examined.

Returning to the UN bribery scandal that continues to unfold over in New York, you will recall that Mr Ng was charged with bribing UN officials including former General Assembly President John Ashe from Antigua, and former deputy ambassador to the UN from the Dominican Republic, Francis Lorenzo. Two weeks ago Mr Lorenzo pleaded guilty to the charges against him and is said to be cooperating with prosecutors. Mr Ashe is scheduled to appear in Manhattan Federal Court on April 8.

The foundation of the charges against Mr Ng and the others revolves around the attempt by Mr Ng to have the UN approve and pay for the construction of a “Global South-South Expo and Meeting Centre” in Macau. Mr Ng may have determined that bribing Ashe and Lorenzo (who would then use their influence within the UN) increased the likelihood that the Expo centre would be approved and built in Macau, and that the contract would be granted to his company, Sun Kian Ip Group. How did Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit get his hands in that pot?

The LoC between Mr Skerrit and Mr Ng states in part:

“Sun Kian Ip Group Foundation… wishes to provide financial support to the said South-South Technology Transfer Facility for SIDs, as an integral structure of the Member States proposed Global South-South Expo and Meeting Center in Macau.”

Our analysis of this statement suggests that, in its elaborate scheme to get the UN to approve the construction of the Expo Centre in Macau, Sun Kian Ip and its chairman may have sweetened the pot by agreeing to “provide financial support” for a technology centre in Dominica.

We have delved into numerous UN press releases and documents and we could not find anywhere reference is made to a South-South Technology Transfer Facility in Dominica being discussed at any official level. That leads us to suspect that this may have been a spur-of-the-moment opportunity, or close to it, for Mr Skerrit to extract something from Mr Ng. What that may be is open to speculation, but Mr Skerrit has not mentioned this project to Dominicans.

Mr Skerrit has the propensity to inflate the most insignificant to a level totally undeserving of the occasion. Look no further than his welcome home ceremony after having purchased a doctorate in India. Why then, would he not mention a major project like this if it was legitimate?

It is worth noting that Mr Skerrit was the only head of government at a conference of lower-level governmental officials. In fact, the conference on poverty that Mr Skerrit alluded to upon his return was organized by the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (WACAP). Membership in that UN-affiliated organization is targeted towards world cities and the conference is attended by the mayors of member cities.

Roseau, Dominica, is not a member of WACAP. So why would Mr Skerrit be at a conference on poverty organized by a federation of cities of which Roseau is not a member?

Here is Mr Skerrit at the WACAP conference in Macau last August (WACAP Macau). As you can see, there is no reference to a South-South Technology Transfer Center in Dominica in the news release. Where did this idea and the intent of Sun Kian Ip’s financing of the centre come from? This question is even more important when you take into consideration that, fewer than three months earlier, the government of Bangladesh hosted a meeting on financing for the South-South Technology Center. There is no reference in the memo (below) as well as the six-page summary attached to this memo (not pictured) from the Bangladesh finance ministry official of the centre being located in Dominica, nor is there any reference to the Caribbean or Latin America.