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GOVERNMENT AWARE OF LAWSUITS ALLEGING CBI UNDERSELLING, HIGHLIGHTS SWIFT AND DECISIVE REFORMS

Published 10 June 2024

Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis News Source

BASSETERRE, Saint Kitts and Nevis, May 27, 2024, [Press Secretary, PMO] – On Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew became aware of two civil lawsuits, one filed in the United States and the other in Saint Kitts, claiming that there was an “underselling” practice within the Federation’s Citizenship By Investment Programme (“CBIP”) between 2021 and 2022. Underselling occurs when CBIP developers seek to discount the statutory minimum investment sum required to be made by an applicant seeking to apply for citizenship. The Florida lawsuit also claims that underselling practices are currently taking place in another jurisdiction.


 
The Prime Minister has stated publicly on numerous occasions, and most recently in a Ministerial Statement in the National Assembly on March 26, 2024, that within the first few days of taking office, he became aware of the underselling practices permitted by the Unity Administration. Prime Minister Dr. Drew therefore immediately ordered a review of the Federation’s CBIP (See Ministerial Statement on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSV0mFI7RZQ).
 
“On taking office after the 2022 General Election, our Administration moved expeditiously to close the legislative loopholes that facilitated underselling. Further, I immediately triggered an internal review of our CBIP, from which we are still gathering the facts. Our priorities were to strengthen our CBIP laws, introduce good governance structures, communicate openly with our international partners about the issues we inherited, find authentic investors and, once our CBIP is stabilized, review the facts to determine if any further action should be taken,” said the Prime Minister Dr Drew.
 
Prime Minister Dr. Drew added “it is evident that our efforts since taking office to enhance the CBIP have been commendable. We have acted promptly and decisively in a relatively short time. Our commitment to action continues, and the results speak for themselves.”
 
In further response to the lawsuits, Prime Minister Dr. Drew, who also serves as Minister of National Security, Immigration, and Citizenship, stated “I have been adamant since day one in office that the Administration, which I have the privilege to lead, will operate within clear good governance principles. Within the first 6 months in office, we introduced strong regulations for our CBIP and strong good governance laws in the National Assembly, including the Anti-Corruption Act.”
 
In December 2022, new Citizenship by Investment Regulations were passed into law to specifically prohibit all forms of underselling. In February 2023, Saint Kitts and Nevis agreed to the six (6) CBIP reform principles advanced at the historic US-Caribbean Roundtable on Citizenship by Investment. In July 2023, further regulations were established to reinforce the procedural and other processes within the CBIP, close loopholes, and introduce good governance structures. Most recently, in March 2024, a new Citizenship by Investment Unit Bill was tabled, seeking to modernize, corporatize, and strengthen the CBIP, based on input from our international partners.
 
Prime Minister Dr. Drew affirmed that “underselling practices were banned from Saint Kitts and Nevis by our new Administration since December 2022. I also specifically led the charge to have a Memorandum of Agreement agreed by the CBIP-operating OECS States, which was signed in April 2024 by all but one territory.”
 
“The establishment of a regional minimum investment sum (US$200,000) and the banning of underselling in the other CBIP States were the key pacts therein. Further, since August 2022, we have been in constant dialogue with our international partners, especially with respect to the unfortunate outcomes from the ill-advised prison project programme,” added Prime Minister Dr. Drew.
 
Prime Minister Dr. Drew informed that the second lawsuit is a judicial review claim in the local High Court seeking an order that all citizenships granted based on investments in the prison project be revoked.
 
“We have already instructed King’s Counsel to act in this judicial review matter. If any of the investments for which citizenships have been granted are proven to be unlawful, with or without the lawsuit, I am, and always have been, prepared to take the necessary statutory steps under the Citizenship Act to protect our Federation’s good name and revoke citizenships obtained by fraud. However, I will only do so on the basis of facts and evidence, as every citizen of this country has the right to due process,” stated Prime Minister Dr Drew.
 
In his March 26, 2024, Ministerial Statement, Prime Minister Dr. Drew also announced that the Government is in the final stages of setting up the Continuing International Due Diligence (CIDD) Unit within the Ministry of National Security, Immigration, and Citizenship. The CIDD Unit will act as a vigilant and proactive entity, employing intelligence gathering, analysis, and collaboration to mitigate risks associated with the continued operation of the CBIP.
 
“Our well-respected CBIP is the longest-standing in the world, and we are proud of what it has done for our people. My goal is to preserve our CBIP and make it sustainable. We met it in an unsustainable state. That is why we have done so many good things over the past 21 months to buttress the integrity of our CBIP. All this good governance reform work has led to us to the impending launch of our revamped CBIP at the Investment Gateway Summit scheduled for July 10-14 in Saint Kitts,” concluded Prime Minister Dr. Drew.

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