The International Monetary Fund has congratulated St Kitts & Nevis for the dramatic improvements the country has made to its citizenship-by-investment program, once suspected of being a haven for financial criminals.
Dr Inci Otker, an IMF advisor, says the transformation from a program shrouded in secrecy to one that is transparent about the way it operates is most welcome.
“The authorities are to be commended for the comprehensive reform of the citizenship-by-investment program,” Otker’s recent report said.
“The improvements in the transparency of SIDF financial reporting are welcome.”
St Kitts and Nevis CIP Investment Requirements
- Real estate
Investment of $400,000
Processing fee of $50,047 (main applicant), $25,047 (spouse and/or children)
- Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
Investment of $250,000 (single applicant, increases with family members, see here)
Processing fee of $7,500 (main applicant), $4,000 (per dependent aged over 16)
For 20 years the secrecy meant that no-one had much idea how many passports had been issued to investors under the program.
But that information has now been disclosed by the Government of National Unity, which is responsible for the overhaul.
Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris revealed 10,777 were issued between 2005 and 2015, the vast majority in the preceding two years. He says finding the figures for before 2005 was more difficult.
Passports Issued Under St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship-by-Investment Program
Harris’s government has set about reforming the program since coming to power in February 2015.
Under the previous regime, the lax controls and poor due diligence made the program the subject of a warning from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, suggesting that it was being used for illegal activity and to evade US and international sanctions.
Then Canada withdrew visa-free travel from St Kitts passport holders, saying it was ‘acting to protect the safety and security of Canadians’.
But, under Harris, the program has been brought back from the brink.
The new PM accepted it had been abused and misused under the former regime, resulting in strained international relations, particularly with Canada and the US.
Summary of changes:
- Overhauled the CIP unit by adding more and better-trained staff and making organisational changes.
- Introduced a case management system that allowed 24-hour tracking of applications.
- Adjusted way of processing cases, away from oldest first towards treating each one on its merits.
- Formed a technical committee to formalise the process of denying applications.
- Cut the acknowledgement period to a five-day average.
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