The recent live webinar hosted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), titled “Dominica: Passports of the Caribbean,” has moved a wave of dissatisfaction and skepticism across Dominica and the wider region.
Amidst the influx of inquiries, there were pressing allegations concerning the financial backing of the OCCRP, with speculations circulating that the organization may have accepted funding from at least two Iranian and three Russian entities within the past month.
These claims have added fuel to the fire, increasing the public’s demand for transparency and answers. Unfortunately, many of these questions went unanswered during the webinar, leaving a cloud of uncertainty and mistrust hanging over the event.
The lack of response from the OCCRP officials has only heightened suspicions, with some attendees suggesting that the number of fundings received from these sources could be significantly larger than imagined, raising serious concerns about the integrity and impartiality of the organization’s investigative efforts.
The event, intended to shed light on passport and citizenship issues in the Caribbean nation, was met with resistance as numerous attendees expressed their dissatisfaction and distrust toward the investigative organization. Social media platforms were abuzz with questions and comments from the public, many of which sought clarity and accountability from the OCCRP officials conducting the webinar.
In the aftermath of the controversial webinar, screenshots purportedly showing transactions made by Iranian nationals named Aziz Barakati and Asad Miri to the OCCRP on October 26, 2023, and October 23, 2023, respectively, have begun circulating widely in Dominica.
These images, now viral across various social media platforms, appear to confirm the allegations that the investigative organization has indeed accepted payments from individuals based in Iran and further alleged that they may have received funds from at least 3 Russians in past one month.
Despite the growing demand for transparency, officials from the OCCRP seem to have sidestepped these issues during their recent webinar, categorically ignoring questions related to their funding sources and the motives behind accepting funds from Iranian nationals. This intensified the public’s suspicions and demand for accountability, raising doubt over the organization’s activities and intentions in the region.
It is worth noting that following the outcry of unaccounted funding to the OCCRP, many from the region attended the webinar and have also posted screenshots of their questions, which were deliberately ignored by the officials in the webinar.
“You are investigating that many governments including Dominica should disclose or make their investment or donations transparent. But in fact, why does your organization, the OCCRP has no transparent funding system. There is no information from whom or how you receive the monies. Could you please explain this as many would be concerned about legitimacy of the funds generated by the OCCRP and why the organization is receiving funds from Russians and Iranians,” read screenshot.
As the controversy surrounding the OCCRP’s financial dealings continues to escalate, questions are now being raised about the transparency and accountability of the organization’s funding mechanisms.
There appears to be no clear or transparent system in place to track the inflow of funds to the OCCRP, nor are there any publicly available bank details to verify where these funds are being diverted.
Philip Rodney, a concerned citizen from Roseau, voiced his apprehensions, stating that the OCCRP seems to be readily accepting money from individuals with unknown backgrounds, and this information is not disclosed or made available to the public.
Suspiciously, the OCCRP may be accepting funds from Russian and Iranian sources with the intent of targeting businesspersons based in Western nations, spanning across European countries, the US, and the UK.
An example of this pattern can be observed in the case of Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani, whose financial standing took a severe hit, losing half of his wealth, following a research report published by the OCCRP and its counterparts.
The turn of events prompted the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to step in, requesting the investigative organization to provide evidence to substantiate their claims against Adani.
However, in a move that raised more questions than answers, the OCCRP opted to withhold any evidence, refusing to comply with SEBI’s request. This has only fueled the fire, intensifying suspicions about the OCCRP’s funding sources and their motivations as calls for accountability and transparency grow louder from the public and regulatory bodies alike.
Adding another layer to the controversy, it has been noted that the investigative organization itself has published articles encouraging the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), despite the fact that VPNs are banned or restricted in several countries due to security and safety concerns.
This stance indirectly raises the possibility that funds could be funneled into the OCCRP’s accounts from countries with stringent financial regulations, such as Iran, China, Iraq, Russia, or the UAE, using VPNs to mask the transactions.
This revelation has only deepened the mistrust and raised more questions about the ethical standards and financial integrity of the OCCRP, as citizens demand transparency and accountability from the organization.