Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 18, 2016 (SKNIS): The St. Kitts and Nevis Government is working assiduously to lift the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) Advisory issued in 2014 under the former administration that claimed the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme was not properly regulated.
The advisory further claimed that illicit persons gained access to the Federation’s passports, which were used to bypass certain sanctions put in place by the United States of America (USA) and other countries against the Iranian Regime.
The Honourable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that although many of the sanctions have been lifted, St. Kitts and Nevis has made drastic changes to the programme.
“The Team Unity Administration came to office and under the leadership of the Prime Minister [Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris], we have had a complete revamp of our CBI Programme,” said the Minister. “We have enhanced the security; we have not just one, but two levels of security. We have recently introduced an additional due diligence test done by regional security forces in Barbados. In addition to using international agencies, we have computerized and introduced a software which would allow us to be more efficient and we have introduced a grading system which allows us to test the level of risk associated with any particular applicant.”
Minister Brantley stated that since taking office some 18 months ago, St. Kitts and Nevis has not had any of the scandals of the past with regards to the CBI Programme and said that this is a noteworthy development.
“And the only whiff that we have had where some individual received passports and were then accused of certain activity, this Government moved with decisive haste to strip them of their passport,” said Minister Brantley. “And so we have demonstrated, that where difficulties arise, we will not hesitate to act and act decisively.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that persons should bear in mind that a passport could be granted to persons five or ten years ago, their due diligence is clean and there is no problem, [but] five or ten years later they involve themselves in some criminal activity. He noted that in situations such as these, the Government must always be proactive and address the issues expeditiously.
He stated that in relation to the FinCen Advisory the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to interact with the United States Government.
“I myself met with both the [United States of America] State Department and Treasury Department and we have interacted with the Embassy in Barbados,” said Minister Brantley. “Most recently, our Prime Minister and other world leaders met in Washington and had the opportunity to engage with the Treasury there. I can tell you that the State Department has said to us that they are pleased with the efforts we have made in so far as the programme is concerned and that it has given its own advice in relation to the FinCen Advisory, that this advisory is really of no relevance anymore to St. Kitts and Nevis.
Minister Brantley stated that the advisory was issued by the United States Treasury Department and not the State Department and noted that it is now for the Treasury Department to act on the advice and recommendation made by the State Department. The Minister said that he is very hopeful that the FinCen Advisory will be lifted in due course based on the recommendations made.