WASHINGTON, USA — In response to our article on Sunday, the St Kitts and Nevis ambassador to the United States, Thelma Phillip-Browne, claimed that it was a “misrepresentation” of a press release issued on Saturday by the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) in St Kitts announcing a drastic 50 percent cut in the investment requirement for its citizenship by investment (CBI) program, ostensibly to create a “hurricane relief fund”.
In a message circulated to all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) ambassadors, Phillip-Browne said, “You will see that it is a proportion of the contribution that is going to a special relief fund and not a drop in overall figure in order to undercut or compete as purported.”
However, this is simply not true, as reinforced by a separate notice to CBI agents issued by the CIU (see below), which clearly states that citizenship by investment applicants will be required to make a non refundable contribution to the Hurricane Relief Fund as follows:
- US$150,000 for a single applicant
- A family of four (main applicant, spouse and two dependents) will also be required to contribute US$150,000
- US$25,000 for any additional qualified dependents
- Due diligence and application processing fees remain the same
In other words, for a family of four (the typical family unit for such applications), the contribution has in fact been reduced by 50 percent from US$300,000 to $150,000, with no mention that this is the “proportion of the contribution that is going to a special relief fund” and that the full contribution remains unchanged at $300,000.
The corresponding required contribution for a family of four for both Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica is US$200,000, meaning that, contrary to the attempted denial, St Kitts and Nevis has now significantly undercut its competitors at a time when both are in dire need of recovery and rebuilding finance.
In the absence of any other official statement from the St Kitts and Nevis government confirming that the total required contribution for a family of four remains unchanged at $300,000, it is not certain at this point whether or not the ambassador was properly briefed on the issue or if the message in question was simply designed to mislead fellow CARICOM diplomats.
Meanwhile, the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party pointed out that in an article published in a local newspaper on September 8, Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris reflected on “how fortunate the Federation (of St Kitts and Nevis) was after being spared the wrath of Hurricane Irma that devastated nearby islands.”
However, in a press release dated September 23, Harris claimed that two category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in St Kitts and Nevis causing devastation that has been phenomenal, thus apparently requiring the setting up of the Hurricane Relief Fund.
According to the opposition, this “act of deceit … will severely harm the reputation of our country in the medium to long term”.
“The question now arises as to whether this new passport programme is a legal one and whether the passports issued under this programme not sanctioned by Parliament could stand up to legal scrutiny,” the opposition concluded.