By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The recent US advisory issued on the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme has prompted the government in Basseterre to take steps to address the concerns expressed in that advisory.
In its May 20 advisory, the US Treasury Department said it was concerned that Iranian nationals have used St Kitts passports to conduct international business and evade US and European sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear program. The advisory was issued through the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network office (FINCEN) to US financial institutions to closely scrutinize any business conducted with people traveling on St Kitts passports.
Prime Minister Denzil Douglas
Prime Minister Denzil Douglas said efforts are being made to revamp the programme.
“We have taken that advice very seriously. Right now my cabinet has been tasked with looking at the paper that eventually will be launched, maybe in one week, that speaks to revamping of the program,” Douglas said.
“Even though we have done exceptionally well and the program has had tremendous following and support, we take the advice that has come from the United States Treasury Department very seriously and we want to make sure that in no way can our program be used to undermine, first, the global security… move and the fight against security problems and secondly we will never use our program to allow persons to circumvent what would have been advisories; what would have been very, very strong positions taken by the United States government and other international organizations and countries with regards to sanctions,” the prime minister added.
According to the US advisory, illicit actors are abusing the programme to acquire St Kitts and Nevis citizenship in order to mask their identity and geographical background for the purpose of evading US or international sanctions, or engaging in other financial crimes.
US officials suggest that the St Kitts and Nevis programme is attractive to illicit actors because as administered, it maintains lax controls as to who may be granted citizenship. FINCEN said at the time that, while Basseterre had publicly pledged to improve these controls, they remain ineffective.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network