Independent analyst applauds Harris-led gov’t for handling of Chinese matter, says Douglas-led party must explain “red flag”
(PRESS SEC) – Noted Barbadian political analyst Mr. Peter Wickham has weighed in on the St. Kitts-Nevis Government’s handling of the matter surrounding the two economic citizens who are alleged to have defrauded state institutions in the People’s Republic of China out of US$100 million.
“I would give them full marks for reacting in the way that they could,” Mr. Wickham, director of Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), recently said, adding: “Dr. Harris has done the best that he can in terms of explaining how is it that he got into this situation in the first place and explaining to the public the way that these things work.”
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris disclosed during an address to the nation on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 that the St. Kitts-Nevis Government is actively investigating the matter surrounding the economic citizens of Chinese descent, who applied for and obtained St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship in 2013 during the tenure of the Denzil Douglas regime and have been living in the Federation since 2014.
Prime Minister Harris also said that the former Douglas regime had granted them St. Kitts and Nevis passports with their country of origin concealed.
In his National Address on May 9th, the Honourable Prime Minister gave the backstory of how the two economic citizens took up residence in the Federation in the first place.
“Dr. Denzil Douglas was fully informed by the St. Kitts and Nevis Police of the Interpol Red Notice [a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition] and that these individuals were to arrive into St. Kitts on British Airways, but absolutely no action was taken,” the Honourable Prime Minister said.
“The more information that comes out, the more it leads me to think it is one of those issues that the Labour Party cannot really gain a whole lot of traction on, and I don’t know if they ever could have really gained traction on it,” Peter Wickham further stated during a recent interview.
The noted political analyst continued: “When the Prime Minister makes the point that the passport[s…were] issued without a place of birth associated with [them], which is one of the key elements that was problematic in the past, it throws up another red flag that the Labour Party would need to respond to.”
This dubious practice by the former Labour regime of issuing passports without the country of birth field may very well have factored into the Canadian government’s decision to revoke the visa-free status of citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, effective November 22nd, 2014.
After all, the announcement by Canada cited “concerns about the issuance of passports and identity management practices within its [St. Kitts and Nevis’] Citizenship by Investment program.”
According to records provided by the Canadian Bank Note [the company that produces passports for most of the CARICOM member states, including St. Kitts and Nevis], 15,197 regular passports, 91 diplomatic and 39 official passports were issued without the country of birth field under the Denzil Douglas regime. The total (15,327 passports) amounts to almost 30 percent of the country’s population.
“My Government has taken the decision to deactivate all passports issued by the former government without the country of birth field,” Prime Minister Harris informed the public during one of his monthly press conferences back on March 9th, 2017.
“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,” Dr. Harris explained.
At the Prime Minister’s press conference on Wednesday, May 10th, Attorney General the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr. said the two Chinese economic citizens in question were issued St. Kitts and Nevis passports back in September 2013 and “the three passports [one out of the three passports was issued for a child] that they had were deactivated among the 15,197.”
The Attorney General further stated that the Chinese economic citizens recently reapplied for the passports, but “[the Ministry of National Security] has not issued any passports to these two and they do not have a valid St. Kitts and Nevis passport.”