The Foreign Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Mark Brantley, explained to CS Global Partners how important the CBI Programme is to the country, while the CEO of FACT, a due diligence firm based in the UK, Kieron Sharp, made absolutely clear what an important role professional and thorough due diligence has to play in CBI programmes.
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After tourism, CBI accounts for around 20% of the St Kitts and Nevis economy and, according to Mr Brantley, “allows us the opportunity to do things for our people.” Several social, security and health programmes on the islands are funded by CBI. “In terms of revenues and proceeds, we see this at work in terms of our poverty alleviation, in terms of our infrastructural development, social programmes, security, and police,” said Mr Brantley.
Mr Brantley also discussed the visa waiver arrangements that St Kitts and Nevis has in place with 154 countries and territories in the world and how this has been possible because the Caribbean nation is a trusted and reliable international partner, and a stable and peaceful democracy.
“We should be announcing some new visa waiver arrangements. This is important to us for citizenship by investment but, more importantly, […] for people-to-people connections that we seek to promote. People-to-people diplomacy is ultimately the best sort of diplomacy. When people can travel freely to experience each other’s countries, their cultures, their food, that is ultimately what makes for a better world,” he said.
Due diligence is, of course, a key part of CBI programmes. Kieron Sharp founded FACT 36 years ago and is now working with the government of St Kitts and Nevis to make sure that their CBI programme is managed professionally and that all applications are properly vetted.
Mr Sharp is an FBI graduate and a former police officer who has worked in Interpol and Europol, and, as such, has a wealth of connections and experience. “We have the ability to help these programmes make sure they offer a first-class service and only attract the people they want to attract. [Our] experience gives us the opportunity to drill very deeply down into areas to make sure the people who are applying are who they say they are,” said Mr Sharp.
Mr Sharp dismissed criticism of CBI and said that, if due diligence is carried out professionally, then such criticism was unwarranted. “Due diligence is the only way you can be absolutely sure you’re not giving somebody citizenship who really shouldn’t have it, who is going to cause problems or reputational damage,” he said.
St Kitts and Nevis was once solely reliant on the sugar cane industry, but in 1984, one year after gaining independence from the UK, the dual-island nation introduced a programme that offers foreign investors and their families second citizenship through an economic contribution.
The now internationally recognised Platinum Standard Citizenship by Investment Programme has enabled St Kitts and Nevis to diversify its economy to the significant benefit of its citizens. In 2018, Prime Minister Timothy Harris launched a new investment channel – the Sustainable Growth Fund. It allows applicants to contribute directly into a government-held fund and make the application process more efficient. In return for investing and only after passing all the due diligence checks, successful applicants can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 2/3 of the world’s countries and territories, security for their families and all future generations, and all other benefits granted to them as equal citizens of St Kitts and Nevis, except for the right to vote.