St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Amid calls for the Government of St Kitts and Nevis to turn Chinese economic citizen Ren Biao over to Interpol, Financial Crime Consultant Kenneth Rijock is advising that Basseterre should move cautiously on that matter.
Ren is wanted in China on financial crime charges, and he is on an Interpol wanted list.
The Team Unity administration has been accused of harbouring Ren despite efforts by Interpol and China to have him returned to Beijing.
Rijock is of the view however, that the St Kitts and Nevis government should ensure that the Chinese national and holder of a St Kitts Nevis passport is not the victim of Chinese politics.
“Well you know I know that there’s no extradition treaty between the Peoples Republic of China and St Kitts-Nevis which presents a diplomatic problem in that the Kittitian government has no responsibility to turn him over. I think the first thing they have to do is, is they need to conduct an investigation to determine whether or not the charges against this Chinese national are politically motivated. Remember there are serious currency controls in the People’s Republic and there is always a need to point fingers in China at people who they claim are corrupt to make it appear that they are reforming themselves. So first of all let’s find out if this gentleman is actually guilty of crimes of real felonies or whether or not is a political issue and once they have established that then you can make a determination as to whether or not he’s unacceptable then you can revoke his citizenship and then turn him over to the Chinese authorities, but they should not do so, until they’ve verified that he’s actually some sort of career criminal as the media seems to portray him and not just somebody who got on the wrong side of politics in China and fled for his own safety. The rule of law does not quite frankly follow in the People’s Republic as it does in St Kitts.
On the other side in a government that’s run by individuals who flout the rule of law it’s not impossible for someone to take a politically charged offence, turn it into a crime and then send it to Interpol. We don’t yet whether or not this gentleman is a political refugee, whether or not he crossed the government, whether or not he’s merely a tax evader or a career criminal as they would have us believe. While I respect Interpol but I do know that there are politically involved cases that get into the system, we know that because Venezuela named many people to the Interpol list and they were later removed because they were clearly political crimes. ”
Meanwhile former national security minister, Operation Rescue’s Dwyer Astaphan says there are still many unanswered questions on the Ren Biao issue.
“Now if he was granted citizenship in 2013, that means he was granted citizenship under the former administration. When did the Chinese government start asking questions or feeding information through an intermediary government to the government of St Kitts and Nevis? Did that process begin after the change of government in February 2015? I am not aware, I do not know and so as a responsible and concerned citizen, I would like more information on it. Somewhere along the line somebody is not telling the truth. Now it goes one step further with this allegation that the man paid a significant amount of money to somebody to protect him from mainland China, or from whoever else wants him. Now again, this is a very serious allegation and if it applies to somebody who is in the decision making position today, did it apply to somebody who was in a decision making position before the government changed? So people need to hold back a little bit and stop celebrating anyone’s downfall and let us get to the bottom of it , I don’t think we’ve heard the full story as yet.”
“WINN asked how should the government move forward on this issue?”
“The truth is what sets you free, be transparent, tell the truth, tell the whole story, show the whole story and if the national interest or the diplomatic interest is not compromised show the media the documentation because this is very serious for us we are a small country, the citizenship programme has been wounded time and again in the past and we have to do all we can to ensure that it doesn’t get any more blows than it should be getting and again that’s what brings it close to the national interest and the reputation of the country. This is why I pointed to those elements in the due diligence process and regulations, that maybe they can go back and look and see if at the time he may have been a potential national security risk and if he was then the government is standing on good grounds to revoke the passport. You cannot sacrifice a whole country and a whole programme on the altar of one person who isn’t standing or may not be standing on solid ground anyway.”
Financial crime blogger Rijock was very vocal on the issue of Iranian Alireza Monfared, who had held a Dominica diplomatic passport, and who had been on Interpol’s wanted list.
Monfared was accused of embezzling millions of dollars and a person of interest in Iran.
He was arrested by Interpol and sent back to Iran.
WINN FM asked Kenneth Rijock whether there are similarities between the Monfared Dominica situation and the Chinese national St Kitts matter.
“First it’s apples and oranges to compare St Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship by investment programme to what’s going on in Dominica because as we’ve seen a large number of people who are dodgy criminals have gotten citizenship or even diplomatic passports in Dominica and I view the St Kitts programme as being light years ahead of it and extraordinarily legitimate this time. If it does turn out that they are harbouring a career criminal then the right thing to do is to turn him over to the Chinese authorities.”
As WINN FM has been reporting, former Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, the country’s Opposition Leader, has called on Prime Minister Timothy Harris to resign over the Ren Biao matter.
According to Dr Douglas the St Kitts Nevis government is refusing to cooperate despite formal requests by China as well as Interpol, to secure Ren’s return from Basseterre to face prosecution in China.
St Kitts and Nevis and China do not have diplomatic relations.
“I’m not ascribing any negative intentions to anybody but it’s possible that maybe the government of China sees this as an opportunity to apply pressure on St Kitts and Nevis in the hopes that we will come to them and unhitch our wagons from Taiwan sooner rather than later” Astaphan said.