By Caribbean News Now contributor
LONDON, England — Regional citizenship consultants Henley & Partners has expressed surprise and extreme disappointment at the recently published House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) interim report on disinformation and ‘fake news’, which urged the British government to ensure that the National Crime Agency thoroughly investigates the alleged undermining of democracies in many countries, including a number in the Caribbean, by Cambridge Analytica, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) and Henley.
Henley told Investment Migration Insider in a statement that the firm is “both surprised and extremely disappointed to note that it has been included in a DCMSC interim report focused on disinformation and ‘fake news’, a subject far removed from the firm’s core services of advising high-net-worth clients and sovereign governments on residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs”.
“Henley & Partners is disconcerted that a UK parliamentary select committee chose to publish claims and allegations relating to our firm and the wider investment migration industry without making any effort to contact or engage with either ourselves or the relevant industry body, the Investment Migration Council,” the statement continued.
The statement apparently failed to note, however, that the Investment Migration Council (IMC) is a Geneva-based, self-proclaimed oversight association for investor migration and citizenship-by-investment, prominently backed by Henley.
Henley chairman Christian Kalin is one of the five-strong governing board of IMC and his critics have said that he has used the organisation to attack his commercial rivals. Several resignations last year from IMC’s advisory committee were apparently prompted by concern over potential lawsuits and IMC’s involvement in attacking residency programmes going beyond its stated mission.
Henley also denied helping candidates in elections in the Caribbean and elsewhere find funding for SCL-managed campaigns in exchange for future promises of government advisory contracts.
“No. This is entirely untrue and is a fundamental misconception. Neither Henley & Partners nor its chairman Dr Christian H. Kälin personally has ever provided funding for any election campaign. Furthermore, any government contracts that Henley & Partners has signed are completely removed time-wise from the alleged involvement in political campaigns in the Caribbean, therefore the suggestion that these two are linked does not make sense,” the firm said.
“We wish to make it very clear that Henley & Partners does not have, and never has had, any formal working relationship with Cambridge Analytica/SCL. We believe that the interaction between our firm and SCL has been consistently, and at times deliberately, misrepresented by certain parties,” the statement added.
However, in May, Sven Hughes, a former employee of the SCL Group/Cambridge Analytica, revealed details about their work in manipulating election outcomes in the Caribbean in concert with Henley, notwithstanding that it was “far removed from the firm’s core services”.
He initially worked on the 2009/2010 election campaign in St Kitts and Nevis before moving on to the St Vincent and the Grenadines constitutional referendum in 2009 and the subsequent general election in 2010. At around the same time, SCL was also starting to work on an election in Trinidad and Tobago.
At that time, the CEO of SCL, Alexander Nix, put Hughes in touch with Kalin, with whom he was required to communicate clandestinely “through the use of Skype or through the use of sort of invisible email accounts, which you would neither send or receive an email, but you will save your correspondence into the drafts folder”.
Asked if he thought it was suspicious that Kalin was selling passports yet seemed to be involved in the election, Hughes said, “Within two weeks I had a conversation with Alexander Nix, which is, ‘I am worried to be here, ethically, morally and some of the things I am seeing’, to which Alexander said to me, ‘Well if we told you the truth, you wouldn’t have joined us…’”
Hughes said that, while contractually he was employed by SCL, he nevertheless talked to Kalin on the phone every day or at least every few days.
“Kalin to some extent was organizing the financing although, I am sure, he’d say that he wasn’t or would deny that,” he noted.
In response to Gray’s summary of what he perceived the situation to be, namely, that Henley is in the business of selling passports, working with Nix, representing an election-winning business, and therefore, Nix wins the election on behalf of SCL, and then Kalin runs the passport scheme for that country once that government is in place, Hughes said, “Assessed based on the available evidence, that seems to be the structure.”
In a documentary exposé broadcast by Britain’s Channel Four, Nix admitted to implementing dirty tricks and sting operations as part of SCL’s elections campaigns.