CIP Agents Warned to be Wary of Chinese with Baggage
A top executive at an international due diligence firm is warning agents of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) to be wary of Chinese applicants who are either on the run, or may soon be on the run from the law.
Vice Chairman and Global Head of Immigration Citizenship and Visa (ICV) Practice at Exiger Diligence, Kim Marsh, reminded the agents that the Government of China – Antigua’s largest market for citizenship – is “cracking down on corruption”.
Because of this, high net-worth Chinese nationals who may be targeted are looking for a way out – a second citizenship and the passport that comes with it.
“There’s a lot of PEPs [Politically Exposed Persons] on the run coming out of China now … More thought has to be given as to how we are going to analyse these individuals,” Marsh said.
He advised agents and due diligence providers to ask themselves, “How influential was that individual?”
“How far up the pecking order were they and how did they acquire their wealth? Did they have legitimate businesses or were they a government employee and got their wealth through envelopes stuffed with cash?” he said.
Marsh was the former president of IPSA International – another global due diligence firm that was recently acquired by Exiger Diligence. The Canadian was speaking to OBSERVER media on the sidelines of the Invest Caribbean Conference 2017 which took place in Antigua this week.
In financial regulation, PEP describes someone who has been entrusted with a prominent public function and therefore presents a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position and influence.
When someone applies through the CIP, the agents who process their applications and the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) are required to carry out rigorous due diligence to verify facts such as identity, background, financial history, and sources of wealth, among other things.
The Government of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis has been accused of harbouring a Chinese fugitive – Ren Bia – who holds Chinese and St Kitts and Nevis citizenship, but is accused of swindling over US $100 million from a Chinese state firm.
“I don’t think [St Kitts and Nevis] can be criticised for that because as we’ve heard this week, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand have all experienced this. You can have the best system in the world and you can still get people who are undesirables,” Marsh said.
The diligence expert said St Kitts & Nevis “can demonstrate they have a proper process in place and they did what was required” with the individual only later being declared a fugitive after acquiring citizenship.