By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Hard on the heels of predictions of a Chinese takeover of Grenada if the Grenadian government adopts a multibillion dollar Chinese development blueprint, comes a new report suggesting that the promotion, export and exploitation of Grenada’s iconic nutmeg production may now be in Russian hands.
Russian firms directly involved in this apparent takeover of the Spice Isle’s eponymous industry have been linked directly to Grenada’s “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” to Russia, Oleg Pavlovich Firer, and his company Star Capital, of which Firer is the managing partner and chairman, with Star Capital having additional interests in subordinate businesses.
Star Capital has its headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and also has offices in Moscow.
Firer is also associated with My Caribbean trade centre, which is said to have been established to promote bilateral trade between the Caribbean, Russian and Eurasian markets, and also has offices in Moscow.
Firer himself was born in Odessa in 1977 and moved to Brooklyn, New York, from the then Soviet Union at the age of 12, where he established a payment-processing company, Unified Payments LLC.
He is believed to have acquired Grenadian economic citizenship before being appointed the country’s ambassador to the Russian Federation.
However, the existence of Firer’s substantial business interests in Russia appear to directly contravene the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Article 42 of which states: “A diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving state practice for personal profit any professional or commercial activity.”
Further, according to the Miami Herald, Firer appears to have had a connection of sorts to federal and state fugitive Natalia Wolf, who broke Florida state law when she transferred ownership of a $2.4 million home to a company known as G & G Property Investments, whose president is Oleg Firer. G & G later deeded the house to Firer.
Indicted on federal fraud charges in Miami, Wolf and her husband are accused of fleecing 400 people — including retirees, veterans and Russian immigrants — in a case expected to reach $100 million in losses.
In another twist, Olinga Mitchell, a family member of Grenada’s prime minister and minister of finance, Dr Keith Mitchell, is the managing partner of Chimera International, a firm located in the Netherlands, which is said to be involved in the distribution of spices and food products in Europe and lists its major products as nutmeg and cocoa.
Chimera is also listed on Firer’s My Caribbean website as an associated business.
Dr Mitchell, while being prime minister, also serves as the minister responsible for public administration and information and implementation, has not responded to repeated attempts to obtain a comment on these issues.
Direct attempts were made over the last week to solicit comment and clarification from the Office of the Prime Minister on this matter; however, emails to the email contact, firstname.lastname@example.org, on the government website came back “bounced” and/or “undeliverable” after several attempts.
Telephone calls have ended up in circular dead-ends from one office line to another with no individual ready to answer questions on this matter, or promise to deliver answers to these issues.