Choice of St. Lucia envoy ‘strange’

LONDON, England – St. Lucia’s appointment of a Saudi billionaire as its Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the government’s refusal to lift his diplomatic immunity to face a divorce suit is being criticized by a senior British parliamentarian.
The Dr. Kenny Anthony administration last month sought to defend the appointment of Dr. Walid Juffali after the Daily Telegraph newspaper questioned his appointment, contending there is no public record of him ever attending any meetings of the London-based IMO and that he does not have any known qualifications in maritime law.
Now, according to the newspaper, Conservative Andrew Rosindell, who is also a member of the all-party parliamentary group on the British Caribbean, has become the first MP to publicly question the diplomatic appointment which came in April last year, a few months after Juffali visited the island for the first time.
“It seems strange that a position traditionally held by St. Lucia’s High Commissioner should be handed to an individual with little connection to the islan, and who apparently lacks the relevant experience to advise the IMO,” he said.
The MP has also urged the St. Lucia government to lift Juffali’s immunity for the duration of a civil suit against him by his ex-wife Christina Estrada, a former Pirelli calendar model whom he married in 2001.
They were formally divorced in Saudi Arabia December last year but Estrada launched civil proceedings in the U.K., seeking additional relief, including a share of her ex-husband’s properties in Britain.
“As a member of the Commonwealth, and whose present monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, St. Lucia (has) a duty to uphold the highest political standards and levels of transparency,” Rosindell said.
The St. Lucia government has taken the position that to waive Juffali’s immunity to resolve property disputes arising out of divorces would create a precedent that could compromise current and future diplomatic personnel in the U.K. and elsewhere.

Walid Juffali
Walid Juffali