By Caribbean News Now contributor
GENEVA, Switzerland -- The fallout continues from a controversial “60 Minutes
” investigative programme aired by the US television network CBS on January 1, which focused on the citizenship by investment programmes (CIP) operated by three out of the five Caribbean islands that offer such programmes.
According to Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US and the OAS, the broadcast clearly had no purpose except to denigrate – if not to emasculate – the CIPs and the governments that operate them. The programme claimed that CIPs “attracted among the buyers a rogues’ gallery of scoundrels, fugitives, tax cheats, and possibly much worse”. However, it neglected to mention that the vast majority of CIP recipients were wealthy law-abiding persons who had been subjected to intense scrutiny by enforcement agencies before their applications were even considered.
At the time there was a widespread perception that Henley & Partners, one of the leading marketers of citizenship-by-investment worldwide, and whose chairman Christian Kalin appeared prominently in the broadcast, was behind the production of the programme in the first place, although the firm later denounced the broadcast as “one-sided”.
However, according to one industry insider, Henley & Partners apparently forgot that they invited the 60 Minutes
producers to one of their citizenship conferences in Dubai in order to initiate the report.
Now, a number of recent resignations from the advisory committee of Investment Migration Council (IMC), a Geneva-based oversight association for investor migration and citizenship-by-investment prominently backed by Henley & Partners, have, according to one resigning member, been prompted by, amongst other things, the controversial 60 Minutes
report in January that was a “PR disaster” and made the citizenship industry look ridiculous.
Furthermore, Kalin is one of the five-strong governing board of IMC and his critics now say that he is using the organisation to attack his commercial rivals. Members of the advisory committee have apparently decided that they do not want to be a party to any potential lawsuits, with its involvement in attacking residency programmes such as Hungary’s going beyond its stated mission.
“The IMC is no more than a mouthpiece of Henley & Partners,” said an industry source. “This latest attack on the government of Hungary’s residency program is nothing more than a commercial vendetta.”
The latest IMC advisors jumping ship include Terrance Scanlan of Four Seasons Resort Estates, Timothy Mohr at BDO Consulting and National Bank of Canada’s Louis Leblanc. Now added to that list is Veronica Cotdemiey, the Dubai-based CEO of Citizenship Invest, and Demetrios G. Papademetriou, PhD, a distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank dedicated exclusively to the study of international migration. He is also president of Migration Policy Institute Europe, a non-profit, independent research institute in Brussels that aims to promote a better understanding of migration trends and effects within Europe.
Citing “continuing issues with Arton Capital” and his inability to contribute in any way to the aims of IMC, Papademetriou told Caribbean News Now last week that his resignation from the IMC Advisory Committee was a private decision, “as I did not have the time to assist or participate in anything the IMC did”.
When contacted for clarification, Arton Capital said that they have no comment, on the advice of their legal counsel, as they are initiating civil and criminal action in the UAE against IMC and its board for defamation.
In responding to a request for comment on the current difficulties apparently being experienced by or within IMC, its media office said that the IMC board and CEO have been in place since the founding of the association in 2014, the board meets on a regular basis to discuss the strategic direction of the association and takes common decisions on the projects it works on including the academic research work driven by a highly respected group of academics.
“The nature of the association is in part to elevate standards within the industry globally and part of this will mean that some of our research will put pressure on the industry to step out of the shadows and operate business models in line with international best practice such as that laid out in the IMC Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, Launched in mid-2015 and governing our nearly 300 members, from 45+ countries,” IMC said.
IMC says it will soon be opening a representative office in Barbados and Shanghai, as well as launching a new report on the subject of due diligence practices within the industry.
IMC was established in October 2014 with the stated aim of bringing together stakeholders within the immigration and citizenship by investment industry and to give the industry a voice.