A Warning About Potential Loss of Interest In CBI Programmes
Media reports in Dubai have warned that problems in the Citizenship by Investment programmes of St Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean islands with similar programmes are likely to have a negative impact on these programmes.
According to Gulf News, a daily English language publication in Dubai, the fate of hundreds of residents in the GCC countries seeking passports of Caribbean nations hangs in the balance, amid allegations of fraud in the various economic citizenship schemes run by these countries.
GCC countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Quatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -UAE.
Gulf News reports that Caribbean passports have always been highly sought-after in the Middle East as they offer visa-free travel to over 130 countries.
It says too that since the time Caribbean nations slashed citizenship costs to rebuild infrastructure damaged by recent hurricanes, there has been an even bigger surge in applications from the region.
High-net-worth families in the GCC have reportedly contributed to a 76 percent spike in demand in the last quarter of 2017.
That’s according to the findings of an immigration firm in the United Arab Emirates.
However, Gulf News says that interest could wane because in recent days, these CBI programmes have been plagued by a massive scandal, with Caribbean media reports suggesting that many immigration firms — including some in the UAE — circumvented legal requirements, or forged government documents to process citizenship applications, depriving government exchequers of valuable foreign currency.
A Dubai-based law firm specialising in economic citizenship is quoted as saying that the fallout of the racket could jeopardise hundreds of applicants.
And Sam Bayat, CEO of Bayat Group, told Gulf News that agents were abusing CBI schemes by offering citizenships at way below government-sanctioned rates through real estate trickery.
Bayat tells Gulf News that “Some 2,000 applications are received annually for St Kitts-Nevis citizenship, 2,500 for Dominica and around 500 each for Saint Lucia and Grenada”
He has warned that all applications processed under these CBI schemes over the past four years are under scrutiny.
The Bayat Group boss says those that didn’t follow the process may be cancelled and the applicants could lose their investments or have their citizenships revoked.
St Kitts and Nevis officials mentioned by the newspaper have reportedly said that the allegations of fraud in relation to the Federation’s CBI programme were “unfounded and politically motivated”.
The paper said Citizenship by Investment Unit Head Les Khan and Attorney General Vincent Byron also allayed concerns of applicants of losing St Kitts-Nevis citizenship.
WINN FM reported last week that the Federation’s police were said to have launched a full investigation into the use of forged documents in connection with the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment programme.
Attorney General Vincent Byron reportedly confirmed this at a meeting in Dubai with agents of the CIP programme.
He’s said to have explained that two evidence-based examples of forgery were brought to the attention of the Team Unity administration.
Published: 12 February 2019