Problems haunt ‘Caribbean’ baroness

LONDON, England – Dominican-born member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, may not be able to escape connections to the “murky financial links between Cherie Blair and the corrupt dictator of a tax haven with an appalling record on human rights”.
The British newspaper the Daily Mail disclosed that “a law firm founded by (former British prime minister) Tony Blair’s wife, who trumpets her human rights work, earned more than £2,000 (US$2,800) a day representing Abdulla Yameen, the autocratic president of the Maldives.
According to the Mail, “In a highly irregular move, the firm was paid more than £200,000 (US$280,000) of its fee by a suspected conman and terrorist now wanted by Interpol. As a result, Mrs. Blair’s company, Omnia Strategy, could become the subject of an anti-corruption investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and U.S. government.”
Baroness Scotland, a British citizen born in Dominica, from whence she departed as a small child, was elected last November as a “Caribbean” candidate for the post of Commonwealth secretary-general, which she will take up in April.
But, her financial links to the Maldives dictatorship and to Cherie Blair’s law firm, now potentially subject to an anti-corruption investigation, will follow her into the Commonwealth post, to the embarrassment of her principal Caribbean backers, and the British government of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Until very recently, Scotland declared in the register of “interests” at the British House of Lords that she is a member of the Advisory Board of Omnia Strategy, the Cherie Blair firm now revealed to have accepted questionable payments.
Scotland was also deeply financially connected to Abdulla Yameen, the Maldives president. In 2012, she received US$108,000 in state funds “to give a legal opinion” against the same Commonwealth Secretariat she has now been elected to head, when it wanted to investigate human rights abuses by the Maldives leader.
The 2012 Audit Report of the Maldives government revealed that she was paid another US$71,700. The auditor stated that this “bonus” payment violated Article 96 (c) of the constitution, the Public Finance Act, and public finance regulations.
She was the candidate of Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit for the Commonwealth Secretariat post.

Dominica President Rosevelt Skerrit with Baroness Scotland.
Dominica President Rosevelt Skerrit with Baroness Scotland.