CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Sunday July 24, 2016 – The status of St. Lucia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), under scrutiny by the country’s new government, is now a moot point.
Dr. Walid Juffali has died at the age of 61 after a battle with cancer – just weeks after his ex-wife Christina Estrada was awarded £75 million (US$98.3 million) in what the media described as the largest divorce settlement in English legal history.
International media reports indicate he passed away last Wednesday in Zurich, where he was undergoing treatment.
The Saudi billionaire’s position as St. Lucia’s IMO representative had been under scrutiny by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet who, while in opposition, had questioned the legitimacy of his appointment.
Juffali shot into the local spotlight last year, when the previous Dr. Kenny Anthony-led administration refused to waive his diplomatic immunity so that he could face the divorce suit filed by Estrada. Questions were asked about Juffali’s appointment, since he did not have any known qualifications in maritime law and there was no public record of him ever attending any meetings of the UK-based IMO.
A High Court judge subsequently ruled that Juffali had secured the appointment in April 2014 to avoid the suit, following the breakdown of his marriage. He and the former super model were formally divorced in December of that same year.
Shortly after becoming prime minister when his United Workers Party won elections in June, Chastanet said Juffali’s appointed was among several diplomatic postings which were being reviewed.