(PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris is highlighting the positive spirit of cooperation that the Government of National Unity demonstrates to the international community, as well as the role it plays in ensuring our Citizenship by Investment Program is the platinum standard of the global industry.
During a National Address on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017, Prime Minister Harris said the Government of National Unity takes a responsible and engaged approach that stands in marked contrast to what took place under the Denzil Douglas-led administration.
“On February 16th, 2015, our people voted for a Government of National Unity and your Government took immediate steps to turn around the Citizenship by Investment Program,” the Honourable Prime Minister said.
“We: (a) met with international partners, (b) hired the international due diligence firm IPSA to do an intensive review and a ‘look back’ at thousands of Citizenship applications previously granted – some have been found to be problematic, and corrective action was taken; we have comprehensively implemented the reforms suggested by IPSA, (c) hired new, additional due diligence firms of high international repute, (d) increased partnerships with friendly governments such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, and (e) commanded high praise from the IMF, CDB, ECCB, and other International Partners; we believe that we have one of the best programs in the world today, which remains the Rolls-Royce of the global industry,” the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis added.
Indeed, the Government of National Unity is actively engaged in collaborative efforts, a fact that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took note of during its Article IV Mission to St. Kitts and Nevis, which was held between April 18th and May 3rd, 2017.
The IMF observed that, “They [the St. Kitts-Nevis authorities] have strengthened the due-diligence process [of the Citizenship by Investment Program] with dedicated resources and global collaboration, as this is essential to reduce integrity and security risks, preserve the program’s credibility, and avoid a race-to-the-bottom.”
The IMF team added: “The mission thanks the authorities and technical staff for the warm welcome, constructive discussions, and positive spirit of cooperation.”
It was in this spirit of cooperation that the Government of National Unity successfully reorganized, restructured and repositioned the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, making the oldest such program stronger and better able to discharge its mandate.
“As a responsible member of the international community, St. Kitts and Nevis will never become a safe haven for criminals,” the Honourable Prime Minister said tonight in his National Address.
“I have stated repeatedly as Prime Minister that our Citizenship by Investment Program is the platinum standard of the global industry. We cannot and will not allow it to be abused by those bent on criminality. The dark days of this program under the Denzil Douglas-led regime are over,” Prime Minister Harris further stated on national TV and radio.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ passport is now ranked number one in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), number two in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) behind The Bahamas, and number 50 in the world out of 199 countries and territories, according to the Nomad Passport Index 2017.
This enviable standing is a far cry from the reputational low point it hit in 2014 when the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory on May 20th of that year, warning of “illicit actors” who were “abusing” St. Kitts-Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Program to “facilitate financial crime.” Six months later, effective November 22nd, 2014, the Canadian government revoked the visa waiver status of citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, citing “concerns about the issuance of passports and identity management practices within its CIP [Citizenship by Investment Program].”
One dubious identity management practice in particular prompted the Denzil Douglas-led administration to issue an urgent recall. “The discredited past regime was forced on December 10th, 2014 to recall St. Kitts and Nevis passports issued prior to July 2014, which did not show the place of birth of persons to whom the passports were issued,” Prime Minister Harris said during his monthly press conference held on March 9th, 2017.
Prime Minister Harris also said that, “Based on records provided by the Canadian Bank Note [the company that produces passports for most of the CARICOM member states, including St. Kitts and Nevis], some 15,197 regular passports, 91 diplomatic and 39 official passports were issued by the last government without the country of birth field.”
Dr. Harris continued: “My Government has taken the decision to deactivate all passports issued by the former government without the country of birth field. All such holders will have to reapply for a new passport, which will contain the relevant country of birth field and they will pay the cost of the new passport. This, of course, is an imperative to safeguard the integrity of our passport, to comply with international best practices, and to satisfy our commitment to being a responsible member of the international community.”
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris will hold his next monthly press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, May 10th at 2:00pm.