Overhauling the Image of CIP
The people managing the Citizenship-by-Investment Programme (CIP) have launched an aggressive initiative aimed at improving the image of the programme. Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) invited members of the media to a press luncheon on Tuesday where the underlying theme was that the CIP is more than the selling of passport, a view held by many nationals and residents. Chief Executive Officer of the CIU, Chisanga Chekwe made the point emphatically when he stated that the Citizenship-by-Investment Programme is not about selling passports. “The idea is not to go out in the market and find as many people as possible to acquire citizenship for a competitive fee. Not everyone can be deserving of Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship. Not everyone is eligible for the privilege of Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship,” he explained.
The CIU CEO noted that under the legislation eligibility for citizenship is not determined by wealth; for while there is a minimum requirement in the three areas recognized by the law, an applicant’s net worth is not a factor when the application is being reviewed. “Thus, an investor of outstanding character with a net worth of $1,000,000 may be successful under the law while an investor with a doubtful reputation and a net worth $10,000,000, may not,” he further explained.
Chekwe also listed five areas for which a person may be ineligible to attain citizenship; these include submitting false information and if the applicant has a criminal record for committing certain crimes.
The CIU official noted that the CIP programme brings in much needed revenues for the country and due to the growing competition from similar programmes in the region and internationally, there have been suggestions that Antigua and Barbuda should lower its investment threshold as well as loosen its robust due diligence protocols.
However, according to Chekwe adopting there suggestions would be a mistake. “We absolutely refuse to cheapen our superior product (if I can call it that) by competing on price. We equally reject the notion that our robust due diligence process is anything to be ashamed of.
On the contrary, this is a comparative advantage that we should trumpet at every opportunity. We should be clear that our programme seeks the very best of investors and citizens,” he advised.
Deputy CEO, Thomas Anthony joined in distancing the programme from merely as the selling of passports and revenues for the country noting that the CIP has significant values far beyond the investment into Antigua and Barbuda. “Citizenship-by-Investment programs ought not to be viewed solely from a country revenue perspective. These programs affect real people, real families lives in profound ways. We in Antigua and Barbuda take our mobility for granted. Decisions to travel to more 130 countries can be made on the spur of the moment. “For millions of families around the globe, for the single reason of the accident of their country of birth, their ability to explore planet earth is severely hampered,” he stated.
Anthony noted that the CIP due diligence protocol is quite extensive and that this has earned Antigua and Barbuda top three ranking internationally, and number one in the region. He noted that the ban placed on some countries has less to do with nationalities and more to do with the inability to conduct proper checks on individuals from those countries. He said each application goes through a rigorous due diligence check and that only when this is completed and an applicant is deemed to be worthy is a recommendation made for approval.
On the issue of due diligence, head of the ONDCP, Lt Col. Edward Croft said he considers this activity as the most important process in the programme. “Due diligence measures in consideration of a candidate for citizenship covers practically everything,” he revealed.
Source: Caribbean Times