|Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 14, 2017 (SKNIS): Henley & Partners, a prominent Global Residence and Citizenship Planning Firm, with its headquarters in Europe, has come out criticizing the CBS 60 Minutes Television Programme aired on January 1, 2017, as “one-sided”, saying that Caribbean Citizenship-by-Investment Programmes are “generally well- run” and “do not pose a security threat”.
The CBS programme was titled “Passport for Sale” with correspondent Steve Kroft and producers Graham Messick and Evie Solomon.
The programme began by stating:
“If you have been thinking about leaving the United States, moving to another country and changing your nationality, it’s never been easier to do. In this era of globalization, citizenship and passports have become just another commodity to be bought and sold on the international market. All you need is money and a willingness to contribute a few hundred thousand dollars to the treasury of a cash-starved country or acquire a piece of real estate.
“It’s called citizenship by investment and it’s become a $2 billion industry built around people looking for a change of scenery or a change of passport, a new life or maybe a new identity, a getaway from the rat race, or perhaps an escape from an ex-spouse or Interpol. In any event, it’s brought in huge amounts of revenue for the sellers and attracted among the buyers a rogue’s gallery of scoundrels, fugitives, tax cheats, and possibly much worse.”
Press Release from Henley & Partners
In a press release dated January 12, 2017, from London, England, Henley & Partners said “following a report broadcast on the 60 minutes television program in the US, Henley & Partners, the globally leading firm in citizenship by investment, is concerned about the one-sided image that the report paints of Caribbean Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programs.”
“Henley & Partners has been involved in the region for over 20 years and has worked with all Caribbean CBI programs to date. While every program is exposed to certain risks and challenges, the firm is of the view that today, the Caribbean citizenship programs are generally very well run and do not pose a security threat as was suggested in the TV program,” the press release further indicated.
The St. Kitts and Nevis CBI programme is the oldest of its kind in the world and the most popular, having been created in 1984; it has gained quite a good reputation worldwide. The concept of residence and citizenship planning was created by Henley & Partners in the 1990s.
To qualify for St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship, an applicant must be at least 18 years of age, of good character, without criminal records, and able and willing to make the required contribution or investment. An applicant must either make a contribution into the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) of a minimum of US$ 250,000, which varies in accordance with the number of dependents that the main applicant submits, along with his or her application. Due diligence fees apply. The second option is to make an investment in designated real estate where an applicant must purchase pre-approved real estate with a minimum value of $US 400, 000. The real estate must be held for five years.
Henley & Partners said that St. Kitts and Nevis was singled out unfairly in the programme.
“In particular, St Kitts and Nevis, which was unfairly singled out in our view, has made significant progress in strengthening and further improving its program. It is a fact that it has now one of the best run CBI programs in the world, with very tight due diligence and strict procedures in place that match or even exceed international best practices,” sated the press release. “By not mentioning this important fact, the TV program gave a very one sided and incorrect picture of the St Kitts and Nevis CBI program and the country.”
The release states that “Dr. Christian H. Kalin, a specialist in immigration and citizenship law and policy and the Chairman of Henley & Partners, who was also interviewed on the TV program, says that what was stated in the program also regarding security risks is inaccurate and does not reflect the current reality.”
“Henley & Partners and its Chairman Dr. Kalin are concerned that only small and selective extracts of Dr. Kalin’s carefully differentiated interview were aired, so that the TV program did not reflect his views comprehensively. The comments that were aired have not properly communicated the context in which he spoke,” the release further communicated.
According to the release, this is the comprehensive statement of Dr. Kalin to CBS:
“Of course there is always room for improvement, but generally speaking the Caribbean has well governed and secure programmes. The alleged sale of diplomatic passports is an entirely different matter and lies outside the scope of Citizenship-by-Investment programs. I believe that major countries such as the US actually recognize those facts and will continue to work with the Caribbean governments to further strengthen the measures already in place. No Caribbean government is interested in having their CIP cause a problem to the international community.”
Kalin continues: “It is important also to realize that Citizenship-by-Investment programs have played and continue to play an important part in attracting much needed foreign direct investment in the Caribbean. The programs are therefore of vital economic interest in the region and have helped several economies, notably St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica as well as Antigua and Barbuda, to sustain sufficient capital inflows during economically challenging periods.”
Reforms to St. Kitts and Nevis CBI Programme after February 16, 2015
Since its victory at the polls on February 16, 2015, the Government of National Unity has embarked on a programme to bring substantive reforms to the CBI programme. Some of these changes have included organizational reforms at the CBI Unit, which have resulted in a more professional staff with new management to enhance the capacity and capability of the Unit to deliver high quality service. Some of the skills set among the new management and staff include immigration, finance, international banking, customer service, taxation, and anti-money laundering. The staff now receives ongoing formation.
Also, a case management system was operationalized, which puts the St. Kitts-Nevis CBI programme above all other programmes with its capacity for service providers to interact with the CBI Unit 24 hours/7 days per week. This system was unveiled and formally presented to interested parties at a meeting at the Marriott Hotel on Friday, October 16, 2015.
And, a technical committee has now been established to address issues of denial. The Committee meets regularly.
Additionally, on the legislative front, several actions have been taken including the tabling of The St. Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was amended to allow the country to prohibit from participating in the St. Kitts and Nevis programme entities from nations designated as engaging in terrorism and other criminal acts related thereto.
The Government has also been actively engaged in recalibrating St. Kitts-Nevis’ relations with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the European Union and Canada. The Administration has pledged to always cooperate with its allies with respect to its national interest and in furtherance of its broader commitment to global security, peace and prosperity. Also, the Government of National Unity has been adamant that it only wants “legitimate business” and has stepped up its due diligence practices.
The Government has also hosted inaugural regional CBI Conferences and by so doing proved itself to be a leader in the Caribbean region in the establishment of the industry’s codes of practices, and the avoidance of bastardization of the industry.
According to Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, “We are concerned about a march to the bottom if competitors do not accept standards. We refuse to be a part of that march.”