BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 15, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The St. Kitts and Nevis Government took another step towards the further strengthening of the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme on Tuesday, 14th November 2017, through the passage of the Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill, 2017 in the National Assembly.
This piece of legislation, which was moved through the National Assembly by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, will provide guidelines relating to escrow accounts and agreements under the Federation’s citizenship programme.
An escrow, under the CBI Programme is a short-lived trust arrangement which is the main mechanism for the consummation of real property sales. An escrow agent is a third party responsible for oversight of the monies, whilst the buying and selling process is being undertaken.
In addition to strengthening the CBI programme, Prime Minister Harris noted that the Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill would also raise the levels of protection for applicants to the programme, adding, “This added protection should further enhance the confidence in the programme and make it even more attractive to potential applicants.”
The Bill contains a clause that identifies who would be allowed to be CBI escrow agents in St Kitts and Nevis. These include a bank or any other entity whose business includes the provision of trust or custodial services; a registered trust company or any other entity whose business is the provision of trust or custodial services; an attorney-at-law; or a chartered accountant – all under certain conditions.
It also requires all CBI escrow agents to be licensed, and to conduct their escrow business in accordance with a number of guidelines.
In outlining some of the guidelines, Prime Minister Harris stated, “The CBI escrow agent must ensure that an escrow agreement is prepared. Hopefully the agreement would bring clarity to the roles, rules, expectations of both parties – the buyers and sellers. The escrow agreement must be in writing and it must contain the name and other particulars of the parties. The agreement must be submitted to the Citizenship by Investment Unit together with the application for citizenship, and the agent has a duty to keep the parties informed of all transactions and the balance held on the escrow account. The agent must keep proper records for at least seven years after the account is closed, and the escrow agent must submit monthly and annual reports to the Financial Services Regulatory Commission.”
Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris further stated that the Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill, 2017 would empower the Financial Services Regulatory Commission to supervise all escrow agents and escrow accounts under the CBI Programme. The Commission would also be responsible for licensing escrow agents and has the power to freeze certain accounts, pursuant to a Court Order.