ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The United States government has put local banks on notice that it will be monitoring their activities to ensure that “dirty” money does not filter into the system through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
Manager of an international bank, located in Antigua, told OBSEVER media that the banking fraternity has been warned that if caught accepting money from questionable sources, they run the risk of losing the services of corresponding banks in the United States.
“If we are found in breach, it means we will not be able to conduct business in the United States or any where else outside of the region,” the bank official said.
Antigua & Barbuda launched its Citizen by Investment programme late 2013 and, to date, only Syrian George Georges has been publicly seen to have obtained an Antigua & Barbuda passport for himself and his family.
The US has indicated that they consider monies from investors in certain countries to be linked to terrorism circles and transfer of this “dirty” money has to be stopped by all means.
The banks are particularly concerned that agents for people seeking citizenship in Antigua & Barbuda could circumvent the processes set up by the government to safeguard the initiative.
In March, a US Department of State Official confirmed that “America’s Justice Department is concerned about several citizens of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis who have bank accounts containing funds of up to eight figures – many more times more than they could earn by working at their trade or profession.”
According to a regional newspaper, the US has been concerned for some time with the St Kitts CIP programme and had raised the matter with the Basseterre government on more than one occasion. The US had even gone as far as sending its officials to discuss the issue with St Kitts authorities.
Reportedly, Canada had also done the same.
On Wednesday, St Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas touted his model of CIP as a sound one that Antigua & Barbuda could emulate.
Prime minister Gaston Browne is on record saying his administration will take the CIP Bill back to parliament to make adjustments.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)