Thu | Jul 18, 2024

St Kitts government moves to tighten CBI operations

Published:Wednesday | June 19, 2024 | 12:06 AM
Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis, Dr Terrance Drew.
Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis, Dr Terrance Drew.

Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis Dr Terrance Drew has defended the decision to establish the Citizenship by Investment Unit, referred to as CIU, as a corporate body as his administration will continue to implement the necessary measures that will prove to its international partners that the twin-island federation is resolute in its efforts to strengthen the citizenship by investment programme.

In addition, the government has secured parliamentary approval for the establishment and operationalisation of the Continuing International Due Diligence Unit, CIDD, as part of the efforts to further protecting the country’s reputation internationally.

“We are serious, and we want to ensure that we engender confidence in our international partners that we are serious about their security as well,” said Prime Minister Drew.

Under the CBI programme, foreign investors are granted citizenship of St Kitts-Nevis in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the federation.

Parliament has also given the nod to the Citizenship by Investment Unit Bill, 2024, effectively paving the way for the CIU to be a corporate body that, the government maintains, is in line with best international practices.

‘Mismanagement’

Prime Minister Drew, who is also responsible for citizenship and immigration, spoke of what he termed “glaring instances of mismanagement” of the CBI programme under the last administration that, he said, raised concerns internationally.

At present, the CIU operates as a department within the Ministry of National Security, Immigration and Citizenship with financial oversight by the Prime Minister’s Office. A government statement said as a result of the parliamentary approval of the legislation, the CIU will now stand as a statutory corporation, having perpetual succession and a common seal, and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.

It said establishing the CIU as a statutory corporation also aligns with one of the recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in a 2023 joint report on investment migration.

“This administration’s goal is to preserve our CBI programme and make it sustainable. We met it in an unsustainable state, and that is why we have done so many good things over the last 21 months to buttress the integrity of our CBI programme,” Prime Minister Drew said.

The CIDD Unit will be headed by former police commissioner and current ambassador for the Eastern Caribbean States to the Kingdom of Morocco, Ian Queeley.

The government said that the CIDD Unit will be headquartered in Europe and will be responsible for conducting continuing due diligence on economic citizens worldwide.

“It will ensure that citizens holding passports issued by St Kitts and Nevis and residing and working internationally, abide by the laws of the countries in which they reside and visit, and that they respect the international laws as well. [It will] alert the Ministry of National Security of St Kitts and Nevis citizens who are being investigated for committing or have been arrested and/or charged with financial or other crimes internationally,” Drew added.

In addition, the unit will liaise with and report to international law enforcement, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing agencies when St Kitts-Nevis citizens are being investigated for committing or have been arrested and/or charged with financial or other crimes internationally.

It will also be responsible for retrieving cancelled passports.

The CIDD Unit will become operational by July 31.

– CMC