By Caribbean News Global
TORONTO, Canada – The Caribbean roundtable discussions between European Union (EU) representatives and Caribbean CBI countries last week were not undue to intensive scrutiny, arising from continuous concerns of anti-corruption organizations to review visa-free agreements, international financing agreements, immigration, money laundering, security, and certain developers that received large amounts of citizenships sold with discounted schemes from Caribbean CBI countries.
Last November, discounting and financing CBI schemes that are in US Courts and others heading there, has intensified international investigations.
At the February 25, 2023, 104th meeting of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and the US – Caribbean Citizenship by Investment (CIP) roundtable, held in St Kitts and Nevis; five governments collectively committed to six CBI principles proposed by the US, several of which had previously been proactively adopted by the OECS states of their own volition as part of their risk management framework to strengthen and safeguard the integrity of their CBI programmes.
The US and EU are apprehensive about current and potential national security risks, immigration and potential violations of money laundering and international law.
There is also the push to act on money laundering and risks arising from insufficient due diligence, conflicts of interest, illegal discounting and concealment of material facts.
The bounty of the political class, agents and marketers in Caribbean CBI countries also form part of the intensive scrutiny of legal and potentially illegal transactions, and personal wealth that are largely unexplained. However, most of these transactions go through US banks and subsidiaries that are subject to compliance [US/EU] regulations, international treaties and law. All is not lost!
Industry agents and marketers, however, note that the EU meetings may very well break the impasse to the Murky World of discounting and financing CBI schemes, and the race to the bottom.
On the upside, this has the potential to deepen ties, strengthen legislation and chart a new road map. The promotion of social upliftment and economic advancement is key to obstructing counter-threats and protecting the Caribbean islands’ sovereignty.
Protecting CBI Countries’ economy
Caribbean CBI programs are a lifeline to the Caribbean economies contributing in some instances as much as 50 percent to economic performance.
With interventions by US authorities and EU representatives on separate occasions, it is evident that Caribbean CBI countries will have to consider a hybrid diversification model for social and economic sustainability.
Both the US and the EU are not merely on a “fact-finding, informative holiday” in the Caribbean. From an investigative point of view, they most likely know what evidence, information and intelligence are at their availability and the relevant risk factors.
Reform mechanisms for Caribbean CBI countries
It is an open secret that some Caribbean CBI programs are sold at a fraction of the legal requirements. The transaction of discounting and financing CBI schemes often leads to fuzzy accounting and sudden wealth accumulation registered in fancy locations. It does not take much to follow the money with skilled investigators and dedicated resources.
The message should be apparent that Caribbean CBI countries must implement changes or lose access and privileges in the US (Canada) and Schengen countries, subject to repeated violations of international law.
Conversely, insufficient Caribbean CBI countries have implemented new reform mechanisms, inclusive of enhanced due diligence for applicants, a significant increase in citizenship costs, and new legislation focused on good governance and anti-corruption measures. The race to the bottom is over!
The re-focus is a major step in rectifying past issues and creating a new environment for advancement. Fundamental to that is strong governance, the rule of law, security and building a durable reputation. Transparency is key, knowing that stability and growth are essential to investor confidence and promoting growth in the Caribbean and external financial markets.
These actions are unparalleled in Caribbean CBI countries to address international community concerns. Thus, it is counterproductive for Caribbean CBI countries to dodge the press requests for interviews, relevant data and information or ambiguity towards US and EU representatives on CBI matters. The cop-out to “so-called confidentiality” is an illusion. The records are permanent to follow the money!
Transformation of Caribbean CBI countries
It is internationally recognised that the CBI provides an economic lifeline to five Caribbean CBI countries: Antigua and Barbuda – Dominica – Grenada – Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia. The revenue is substantial to funding major infrastructural, social and economic development projects and serves as an emergency fund for budgetary support.
The transformation of CBI from illegal discounting practices and improving the industry from the cheap side that seems to attract undesirables – from US$70,000 – and plenty of unfinished projects – underlines the importance of real investment options and responsiveness to the high net-worth marketplace.
There is a boom in the global RCBI industry for high net-worth individuals and families in need of a genuine second, third, etc., documentary travel (passport). The capability likewise exists to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) primarily (transformative investments) and appeal to the best global companies with a focus on sustainable industries in the Caribbean.
The marketplace of high net-worth participants provides better value for money and long-term benefits from individuals and global investors seeking residency, citizenship, and global business prospects.
Collectively, the region and its people should not be misled by shady characters, agents, and advisors supported by politicians looking for a crooked deal.
The Caribbean is ideal for growth and development. Caribbean CBI countries must strengthen their risk management and negotiating framework. The ethos should be on terms and conditions that attract much-needed investments in healthcare, infrastructure development, skills development (upskilling) and setting up the region as a viable economic and trading bloc.
The five Caribbean CBI countries that are committed to CBI in the region should organize as a bloc (syndicate, alliance) – Caribbean CBI countries – focused on the collective dimensions, benefits, risk factors and prospects for growth and development.
The results may very well provide the much-needed highly productive and mutually beneficial engagements that deliver safeguards to the prosperity of Caribbean CBI countries.