By Caribbean News Now contributor
BASSETERRE, St Kitts — Following a statement last month by the leader of the opposition, former prime minister Dr Denzil Douglas, to the effect that he will revoke the citizenship of any applicant who is found to been illegally granted St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment (CBI), a spokesperson for the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party confirmed to Caribbean News Now on Friday that this was indeed its policy position if and when it is returned to government.
Multiple allegations of systemic fraud in the St Kitts and Nevis CBI programme have surfaced recently, involving forged letters of approval, unauthorised switching from the donation option to the real estate investment option, and illegally financed unsanctioned discounts.
The situation becomes even murkier when, according to copies of invoices in the possession of Caribbean News Now, in some cases successful citizenship applicants have been instructed to transfer the investment contributions into the personal bank accounts of the principals of at least one development company instead of to the St Kitts and Nevis government.
Douglas has made it clear that, upon return to office, a new Labour government will examine all previously approved citizenship applications and any applicant who is found to have breached CBI requirements will have his or her citizenship revoked and referred to local law enforcement, including agents and developers found to have participated in the fraudulent schemes.
While the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), the government agency charged with administering and policing the CBI programme, has been well aware of the situation from at least early November, little or no effective action appears to have been taken to put a stop to it, although it is beyond belief that the CIU cannot or does not monitor the grants of citizenship under the various options and thus be able to identify when applications have been submitted on a discounted or “financed” basis and/or fraudulently switched from one to the other using forged letters of approval.
Head of the CIU, Les Khan, issued a press statement on November 28, 2018, claiming that two low level agents found to have been operating outside the parameters of the programme had been identified and penalised, and committing to investigate further and take appropriate action. There has been no evidence of any such corrective action and Khan has consistently failed to respond to media inquiries.