Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Charmaine Quinland-Donovan is assuring all industry participants, new citizens and the general public that citizenships granted and the resulting travel documents issued, have been processed in accordance with the law and international best practices.
“The benefits of the Programme to the people of Antigua and Barbuda are significant,” the CEO says. “More than US$200 Million from inception to date have come from the CIP. Therefore, neither the Government nor the Unit would undertake any measures that would undermine the effective administration and standing of the Programme, or compromise the mobility of Antiguan and Barbudan citizens.”
Quinland-Donovan confirmed that the earnings of the Programme have been utilized to service the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan; meet monthly Social Security and pension shortfalls; support the Solid Waste cleanup programme; contribute to the project to provide affordable homes for Antiguans and Barbudans, and support the Barbuda Council in meeting its expenses.
The CEO does not accept the notion that there is political interference in the Citizenship by Investment Programme. She pointed out that no government minister or official independently makes decisions regarding the management of the Programme. In the interest of the Programme and in accordance with the laws of Antigua and Barbuda, all decisions on Policy matters associated with the Programme are made by the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda in consultation with the Unit.
The CEO stated that from the last quarter of 2014, a series of enhancements have been made by the government and the Unit, which considerably strengthened the process of vetting applicants for citizenship under the investment programme.
“During the protocol of vetting,” she says, “the Unit goes above and beyond the normal global best practices.”
Elaborating the point, the CEO stated that the extensive process involves searches in global sanctions and embargo lists, alerts and watch lists issued by financial regulators, law enforcement and other governmental agencies from around the world. These lists contain the profiles of high risk and “potentially” high risk individuals and entities, Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and their relatives and close associates, high-profile criminals and blacklisted entities.
Also included are individuals and entities appearing on lists such as the World Bank Ineligible Firms List, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Quinland-Donovan explained that the Unit engages the services of international due diligence (DD) providers to conduct wide research on all members of applicant-families in every place they have lived for more than six months in the ten years prior to their applications.
The CIU also benefits from analysis of applicants by regional and international law enforcement agencies, such as International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC), which is part of CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).
Direct or indirect involvement with terrorism, international investigations or cross border money laundering activities are particular areas of focus.
A decision is reached on applicants only after the full analysis is completed, and where incriminating information is discovered at any stage, the application is denied.
“All of the Unit’s international partners are involved in the entire process,” Quinland-Donovan maintains.
In addition to this rigourous process, a “Restricted Country” list was established in December 2014 under which applications from nationals of several countries are automatically disqualified. These countries are: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Somalia and Yemen.
Nationals of these countries may only apply if they reside outside of their country, their source of income is generated outside of the country and they are lawful permanent residents of Canada, the United States of America or the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the country has recently introduced the use of electronic passports (E-passports), which have the capabilities of storing biometric data, adding to state-of-the-art security measures that will bring the country on par with international standards. In the near to short term, as part of the CIP application process, applicants will be required to provide biographical data through the Antigua and Barbuda embassy located closest to them.
The CEO says the Unit will continue to operate in accordance with the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment (CIP) Act 2013; the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Act CAP 22, and all other relevant legislation, in the management of the Programme.