By Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA -- More questions concerning the background of recipients of St Kitts and Nevis passports under the country’s citizenship by investment programme have surfaced following a report on Monday in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
The article by Jason Clenfield and Pavel Alpeyev, which deals with the recently introduced plan to purchase St Kitts and Nevis passports using the virtual currency Bitcoin, reveals that two ex-convicts have acquired St Kitts and Nevis citizenship though the investment program.
The first is Roger Ver, a former US citizen, ex-convict, millionaire investor and founder of Passports for Bitcoin.com.
Ver was sentenced to ten months in federal prison after selling about 14 pounds of explosive without a licence on the EBay auction site. He moved to Tokyo after finishing probation in 2006. He obtained his St Kitts-Nevis passport on February 13, 2014, and abandoned his US citizenship by the end of the month.
The article points out that no residency or even a personal visit to St Kitts and Nevis is required, just a $400,000 investment in designated real estate or a non-refundable $250,000 contribution to the St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation.
According to Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, the programme rakes in more than $100 million annually.
However, the growing list of questionable characters purchasing St Kitts and Nevis citizenship gives the lie to the claim on the programme’s website
that it employs “meticulous due diligence procedures that seek to ensure that only persons of good character are attracted to the Federation through this program.”
The second individual referred to in the Bloomberg Businessweek article is Paul Bilzerian, a former corporate raider who moved to St Kitts after long battles with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and two stints in prison for securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government of millions.
Bilzerian is now one a number of government-licensed processors in St Kitts authorised “to act on behalf of the main applicant in relation to a citizenship by investment application”.
On May 20, 2014, the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory to financial institutions stating that foreign individuals are abusing the St Kitts and Nevis programme for the purpose of engaging in illicit financial activity.
Specifically, FinCEN believes that illicit actors are abusing the programme to acquire citizenship in order to mask their identity and geographic background for the purpose of evading US or international sanctions or engaging in other financial crime.
Another St Kitts-Nevis economic citizen on the run