CBI Industry – Exciting Times Ahead or Not up to us
Our world has truly become Global in the 21st Century. We all Travel, watch TV, are hours on Social Media and cannot live anymore without Internet connection! So why are we restricted by physical borders? For Individuals with means and willingness to look at better opportunities for themselves, their families &/or their businesses around the world there are many exciting options out there thanks to Citizenship by Investment (CBI).
Many years back, in 1984, when the CBI Industry was born out a small Caribbean island of St. Kitts no one could imagine that Today it would stand by some estimates at USD3 billion+ & still growing. Slowly and steadily many countries joined the CBI bandwagon but what is most exciting and sometimes scary is the pace of changes in the last 5 year as compared to the first 25 years of this industry. 2016 St. Lucia launched its CBI program followed by Vanuatu in 2017 from the other end of South Pacific. 2018, we all witnessed the launch of Jordan CBI followed by Moldova. 1Q2019 Montenegro launched its much-awaited CBI. The story does not end there, major positive changes to existing CBI programs too! Sep.18 Turkey cut its CBI program cost from USD1M to just USD250k, Mar.19 Grenada announced major changes to its Citizenship program including price reduction in certain area for real estate investment.
But all is never rosy, just as the industry kept on growing and many CBI specialists emerged out of nowhere, there were scandals galore starting with CBI companies absconding with peoples hard earned money, fraud, forgery, mis-selling and many incidents implicating officials at government level too. The incidents were not isolated to a single country or program but went all the way from Caribbean, Bulgaria, Greece to UK. As I write this article, 15May19 Cyprus has increased its investment amount & also brought about many key changes to tighten its CBI criteria.
In the past, belonging to the Banking industry myself, which is over 600 years old (its first bank, Medici Bank opened in Italy in 1397), millions of competing banks across the globe trying to get a tiny piece of the USD134 Trillion industry, perhaps, there is merit in what EU/ OECD are saying, tred carefully CBI Industry!
In Banking, there are in country Central Banks and IMF, World Bank etc. at an international level to police the industry. Standard systems like Swift to have a common working framework and language. What do we have in the CBI Industry? How do we protect the consumer & our industry? Thank God that the Investment Migration Council (IMC) was formed in 2014 towards this objective but it cannot achieve miracles unless each & every one of us commits to contribute. Being such a young industry, we are also lucky that we have the pioneers of our industry still alive and working amongst us. Let us talk to each other, listen, seek advice & together make history by setting standards & the bar higher for ourselves. I look forward to seeing all of you at the Investment Migration Forum in Geneva.
Author: Saadiya Saadat, Founder & MD Secondpass Global