BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 30, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The reputational damage to the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme caused by the misdeeds of the former Denzil Douglas administration continues to haunt St. Kitts and Nevis.
This became evident when two Members of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes and Marietje Schaake, wrote to the European Union (EU) Commission and the President of the European Council calling for the termination of the visa free status programme afforded to St. Kitts and Nevis nationals primarily based on the past transgressions of the former regime.
In the letter dated 10th May, 2019, the Parliamentarians outlined a number of instances of abuse of St. Kitts and Nevis’ CBI programme—all committed under the Denzil Douglas administration.
The letter stated, “The situation got so bad that in 2014 Canada revoked visa-free access for citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The MPs were referring to the situation that occurred in May 2014, when the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory on St. Kitts and Nevis in which it stated that foreign individuals were abusing the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme to obtain passports for the purpose of engaging in illicit financial activity.
The issuance of this advisory was followed in November 2014 by the Canadian government’s revocation of its visa-free waiver for persons carrying St. Kitts and Nevis passports.
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris stated at his press conference today (Wednesday, May 29) that shortly after assuming office, his Government undertook a comprehensive overhaul of the CBI programme, which led to the programme receiving international accolades and being labelled as the platinum standard of the citizenship industry.
“Our programme is an excellent programme. We continue to say that we have one of the most effective due diligence programmes in the world – not just in the Caribbean but in the world; we continue to say that we cooperate with all international agencies of note, and when we say that we cooperate with Interpol, with IMPACS, with JRCC etc., all of these are agencies well known for their involvement in crime fighting and so when we cooperate with them it is to ensure that only persons who have satisfied the tests can actually succeed in our programme,” the prime minister said.
The letter by the two Members of the European Parliament pointed to a situation where a Russian national of interest to law enforcement agencies was being described as an economic citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis since 2014.
That assertion was quickly proven inaccurate by both Prime Minister Harris and the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Mark Brantley.