After PM says he was unaware CIU had approved several applications
Applications from nationals of Russia and Belarus to Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) will be suspended from March 31.
This after Prime Minister Gaston Browne told US government officials that he had previously been unaware that several applications from Russian nationals had been accepted.
On February 25, following a request by the United States officials, a number of Caribbean countries which offer CIPs — namely Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis and St Lucia — agreed to suspend the processing of applications from Russians and Belarusians, with Grenada given until March 31 to do the same.
However, Browne, along with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Charmaine Donovan, met with the US Treasury Department and disclosed that several applications from Russians had been accepted by the CIU and that these applications had already entered the process of enhanced due diligence.
The government stated that given the circumstances, it will adopt the same arrangement as Grenada and have informed all their relevant agents and agencies of this deadline.
Due to the Russia’s acts of aggression in Ukraine, both territories and its citizens of Russia and the nation of Belarus which is a Russian-allied state, have been put under sanctions by the governments in the European Union and the United States.
Additionally, the European Parliament has sought to see the end of CIP programmes by claiming they were a threat to European national security.
That was despite repeated assurances from countries with CIPs that European officials were invited to audit the programmes.
Antigua and Barbuda and the four other CIP Eastern Caribbean countries agreed on the implementation of six new ‘principles’ at a meeting with the US officials, aimed at bolstering their respective CIPs amid intense scrutiny from the European Parliament.
The principles suggested by US representatives, acknowledged that dismantling the programmes could have a detrimental socioeconomic effect on the countries, considering their contribution to national revenue.
Chairman of Grenada’s CBI Committee, Richard Duncan, spoke to Grenadian news media this week and explained the principles, including the “shared denial of applicants which meant where an applicant denied in one country … should not be considered in another country … there is the principle of the audit, that is these programmes needed to audit annually or at least [bi-annually].
“There was also the principle of using the [Financial Intelligence Unit] … where no applicant should be given consideration until cleared by the FIU of each territory,” he added.
Other principles included how to interview applicants and the need to partner with international agencies to recover recalled passports.
Within the next four to six months, representatives from Antigua and Barbuda will meet with its counterparts to hold a technical meeting on the impact of the agreed principles.