US LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION FOCUSES IN ON PRIME MINISTER SKERRIT AND ATTORNEY ASTAPHAN

US LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION FOCUSES IN ON PRIME MINISTER SKERRIT AND ATTORNEY ASTAPHAN

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According to a reliable source, an overseas office of an American Federal law enforcement agency has been ordered to turn over all information in its possession on Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, and attorney Anthony "Tony" Astaphan, who acts as Skerrit's adviser for the country's diplomatic passport scheme. Readers who might think that the attorney-client privilege applies to any communications between the parties are advised to review Federal case law on the Crime or Fraud Exception to the privilege.

ANTHONY ASTAPHAN

The requesting agency has not been identified, but is believed to be the Department of Justice.

Dominica has been the subject of international media attention this year, primarily due to controversy over the alleged sale of a large number of Dominica diplomatic passports to a number of Iranians, Chinese, Russians, and other nationals from high-risk countries, some of whom have been arrested, on a variety of charges, in several countries. There are concerns that Dominican passports have been sold to North Korean government agents, after a CNN investigative story disclosed that a Chinese recipient of a Dominican diplomatic passport was acting for a sanctioned state-owned North Korean Bank.

Given the broad reach of US Conspiracy laws, and the extraterritorial application of the money laundering statutes,  Dominica government staff members who are engaged in the production of diplomatic passports for foreign nationals might want to consider consulting with a competent criminal defense attorney.

Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Senior Financial Crime Analyst

Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant