St. Kitts and Nevis Government passes Citizenship by Investment Unit Act

The St. Kitts and Nevis government has passed the Citizenship by Investment Unit Act in the National Assembly.

The National Assembly successfully passed the Citizenship by Investment Unit Act, 2024 in a landmark sitting of the National Assembly on Friday, 14 June.

Corporatisation of the Citizenship by Investment Unit of St. Kitts and Nevis – a New Era

In a groundbreaking move, the St. Kitts and Nevis Government has passed the Citizenship by Investment Unit Act, transforming the existing Government Department into a statutory corporation.

This corporatisation aligns the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) with entities like the St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA), Tourism Authority, and Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC), placing it under the direct oversight of the Prime Minister and the National Assembly.

Championed by the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Citizenship and Immigration, this legislation signifies a pivotal step towards enhancing the professionalism, efficiency, and transparency of the forty-year-old Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. The move to corporatise the CIU follows recommendations from esteemed bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

As a crucial pillar of the Federation’s economy, the CIU’s corporatisation underscores the importance of upholding the highest standards of operational excellence and staff performance. To incentivise and reward staff for their contributions, bonuses will be provided based on revenue generation, ensuring a culture of accountability and dedication.

Prime Minister Drew emphasised the government’s commitment to instilling confidence in international partners regarding security measures. The corporatisation of the CIU represents a significant stride towards professionalisation, efficiency, and accountability, reinforcing St. Kitts and Nevis’ dedication to excellence in the realm of Citizenship by Investment.

“We are serious and we want to ensure that we engender confidence in our international partners that we are serious about their security as well,’ Prime Minister Drew said in Friday’s Assembly session.

Ensuring Transparency and Integrity: The Evolution of the CIU Statutory Corporation

As the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) transitions into a statutory corporation, operational funding will primarily stem from net due diligence fees, International Marketing Agents (IMA) fees, and Authorised Agent (AA) fees. Notably, revenue generated from the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme, which includes the Sustainable Island State Contribution and CBI application fees, will continue to be channeled into the Federal Consolidated Fund.

In alignment with the Federation’s employment laws, current CIU staff members will be presented with equitable options to ensure a seamless transition amidst these organisational changes. This approach underscores the government’s commitment to upholding fair labor practices and prioritizing the well-being of its workforce.

By embracing these transformative changes, the CIU statutory corporation underscores St. Kitts and Nevis’ unwavering commitment to transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement. The evolution of the CIU is a testament to the government’s proactive approach to reinforcing the credibility and sustainability of the Citizenship by Investment Programme, paving the way for a future of excellence and trust in international partnerships.

Mr. Michael Martin emphasises the collaborative approach of the 2024 Act

Mr. Michael Martin, the Head of the St. Kitts and Nevis CIU, expressed enthusiasm about the implications of the Citizenship by Investment Unit Act, 2024.

He emphasised that ‘these legislative amendments exemplify the Federation’s steadfast dedication to preserving the integrity of the CBI Programme. The Act reflects a collaborative effort, incorporating feedback from international partners to enhance and refine the premium offerings of the Programme.’

Governance and Establishing the Citizenship by Investment Unit under the 2024 Act

In accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) Act, the CIU will undergo a transformative shift as it is established as a body corporate with perpetual succession, equipped with a common seal, and vested with the capacity to institute legal actions in its corporate name.

Central to the Act is the appointment of a Board of Governors tasked with overseeing the CIU’s operations, formulating procedures, and managing various functions of the Unit. Additionally, a Chairperson, appointed by the Minister responsible for Citizenship, will provide leadership and strategic direction to the Board.

The Act mandates the appointment of key personnel, including a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Due Diligence & Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer, to ensure effective oversight of the Programme. These roles will work in tandem with the Continuing International Due Diligence (CIDD) Unit to fortify the security and integrity of the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Financial arrangements outlined in the Act dictate that the Chairperson, Board of Governors, and CIU staff will be remunerated from funds received by the CIU, distinct from financial contributions made by CBI applicants to the Consolidated Fund. Notably, funds collected through the Sustainable Island State Contributions and other statutory payments pertaining to CBI applications will be directly deposited into the Consolidated Fund.

As the Act prepares for gazetting, the constitution of the Board marks the initial phase in addressing staffing considerations within the CIU. An annual independent audit of accounts and the issuance of annual reports will uphold transparency and accountability within the Unit, reflecting the government’s commitment to high standards of governance.

2024 Act continues to strengthen Programme

The enactment of the Citizenship by Investment Unit Act signifies a collaborative effort between St. Kitts and Nevis and its international partners, incorporating recommendations from esteemed bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). The Act serves as a testament to the continuous evolution and enhancement of the CBI Programme, reinforcing the Federation’s reputation as a pioneer in the realm of transparent and enduring citizenship programmes.