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Definite benefits to citizenship by investment programmes, says Caribbean travel writer
Published on January 13, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

LONDON, England -- There are definite benefits to the citizenship by investment programmes across the Caribbean, says Caribbean & Co. founder, Ursula Petula Barzey on the heels of a recent CBS 60 Minutes report called Passports for Sale, which painted a very negative picture of the programmes.

ursula_petula_barzey.jpg
Ursula Petula Barzey
Barzey, who writes about the citizenship by investment programmes for the luxury travel blog Caribbean & Co., said the programmes are a much-needed source of foreign direct investment that, if managed properly, can help to diversify the countries’ economies, which are currently overly dependent on tourism.

According to Dominica’s 2016 Budget, in the 2015/16 Financial Year, EC$279.8 million was raised via their citizenship by investment programme. EC$44 million of which was spent on various projects including employment and apprenticeship programs, small and micro business support and road repairs after Tropical Storm Erica in 2015.

The money generated from the Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment programme, launched in 2012, was projected to raise EC$111.4 million in 2015 compared to EC$60.3 million in 2014. For St Kitts and Nevis, the programme was projected to generate 30% of the government’s revenue in 2015 -- roughly EC$200 million.

A significant percentage of the millions generated by both programs are used to fund various development initiatives across a range of sectors through the Antigua and Barbuda National Development Fund (NDF) and the St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation respectively.

“The alleged rogues, scoundrels and tax cheats highlighted from the St Kitts and Nevis programme are all historical cases. The St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme like all the others in the region have since tightened their criteria and due diligence process,” the strategist explained. “These improvements in addition to the programmes and projects funded through the five Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes should have been the focus of the CBS 60 minutes report. Of course, that may not have been sensational enough.”

“Either way, considering the potential ramifications of your entire population losing visa-free access to certain countries as what happened when St Kitts and Nevis lost visa-free access to Canada, it would have been foolish for them or any of the other programmes to continue accepting candidates who don’t meet a high standard. Failure to do so undermines the value of the product – the passport,” Barzey said.

She also explained a new online course to educate high net worth individuals on how to secure a second passport through one of the five Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes located in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia. The online course, titled Seven Steps Citizenship, also provides insight on the three European citizenship by investment programmes located in Austria, Malta and Cyprus.

"I was inspired to create the Seven Steps Citizenship course after attending a number of citizenship by investment conferences and interviewing leading government officials, experts, and advisors regarding second citizenship. My goal is to create further awareness and present the information on the citizenship by investment programmes in an objective and thorough way so that potential candidates can make an informed decision about which programme is right for them and their families," added Barzey.

“Applicants must go through a series of steps including a comprehensive due diligence background check before they are approved. The course helps to prepare families for the process and helps them decide which country would best fit their needs,” she noted.

The Seven Steps Citizenship course starts with an overview of citizenship by investment and a detailed outline of the seven steps process to successfully acquire a second passport. It then describes each of the five Caribbean and three European citizenship by investment programmes, providing insight on relevant legislation, requirements, application process, investment options, fees, taxes, dual nationality, the list of visa-free countries and territories as well as additional resources. The course also provides access to five comparison charts to help candidates evaluate the citizenship by investment programmes based on personal circumstances. There are also some worksheets for candidates to assess and keep track of progress.

Via one of the Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes, a second passport can be secured in three to six months after undergoing due diligence background checks most often conducted by American and European agencies. The minimum investment for these programmes ranges from US$100,000 to US$250,000, not including government processing and due diligence fees.

Barzey added that countries are now publishing their programme data.

“For example, we now know that through the end of 2015, accounting for the last ten years, approximately 10,777 applicants had been granted citizenship and by extension second passports via the St Kitts and Nevis programme. Applicants came from 127 different countries.

“Increased transparency will help keep the governments accountable to the public and in term bring about greater reporting on the program. This, in turn, will provide candidates who must work with an approved agent to submit their application with critical insight and help prevent them from falling for dodgy schemes not actually connected to the legitimate programs. This is one of the main reasons for the Seven Steps Citizenship course.”
 
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Comments:

Joy:

“The alleged rogues, scoundrels and tax cheats highlighted from the St Kitts and Nevis programme are all historical cases.

Tell us more about that.

Alison-Madueke had long been suspected of large-scale corruption. Doesn’t her case indicate that your due diligence process is too weak?

According to Dominica’s 2016 Budget, in the 2015/16 Financial Year, EC$279.8 million was raised via their citizenship by investment programme. EC$44 million of which was spent on various projects including employment and apprenticeship programs, small and micro business support and road repairs after Tropical Storm Erica in 2015.

Take a trip to Dominica. Such garbage is far from the truth. In fact the Roosevelt Skerrit Administration have killed every other sector of economic growth. How can a country only depend on a passport selling programme?

Sickening to the core

Ronnie:

The Management Committee of the United Workers Party (UWP) places on record its profound congratulations and commendations to its Political Leader, and Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition Honourable Lennox Linton on his outstanding leadership generally, and in particular his handling of the matter of the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI) aired on CBS60 Minutes earlier this month, that is Sunday 1st January, 2017.

Honourable Lennox Linton did a great service to the country by highlighting the absolute need for transparency and accountability in the administration and management of the Commonwealth of Dominica CBI Programme. In this regard Honourable Linton adequately represented the views of the Party as well as a vast majority of the citizens of Dominica.

The Management Committee is especially impressed by Honourable Linton’s continued resolve to stand up for the interest of the ordinary men and women of our country, particularly the need for the resources of the State benefitting all the people, and this in spite of the many threats on his life, that of his family and Party Colleagues. The Committee has full confidence in his ability, knowledge and understanding of issues affecting the Commonwealth of Dominica which he uses in the service of our people.

The management Committee encourages our fellow citizens to join with the UWP in recognizing the outstanding work of Honourable Linton and to give him and his Party your fullest support.

Anthony W Astaphan:

The management Committee of the United Workers Party should hang its head in shame! Its endorsement of Linton's skulduggery and betrayal of his country this shameless Committee has displayed its lack of courage and nationalism. It now endorses the lies about a mail order CBI and the alleged sale of diplomatic passports without a shred of evidence.

This morning Henley & Partners published a release on 60 Minutes. The following is an important part.

"Caribbean Citizenship-by-Investment Programs

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.

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. 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.

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. Kalin states: “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.”

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."

I trust the Committee will not swallow its ignorance, and publish facts, not Linton engineered gossip, to prove that diplomatic passports were in fact sold. Gregoire Nassief challenged him on radio to do so, and Linton backed out. Typical, brave in the dark of night like a thief but a coward in the day! Put up or shut up!

Anthony W Astaphan,SC



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