The Prime Minister of Grenada and recently appointed chairman of the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Keith Mitchell has stated his intention to launch an investigation into whether applicants to the region’s Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIPs) are meeting the requirements under the regional security mandate as required by law.
“There are reports circulating of some citizenship by investment applicants receiving passports without the regional body getting the data about the applicant and not conducting the relevant due diligence,” Mitchell told reporters during his weekly post-cabinet briefing.
“Despite the fact that some are saying this doesn’t happen in their jurisdiction, the fact is that rumours are out there, and I told my colleagues that we have to deal with this. If it’s not true, then we have to confront it. We cannot just say it’s not true because the rumours are circulating, so they have mandated me to get the facts and to examine the issue,” the Prime Minister insisted.
The Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (Impacs) and the Joint Regional Communication Centre are agencies tasked with vetting applicants for the various CIPs in the region.
Mitchell and the council he chairs will meticulously double-check records of CIP applicants to confirm if any discrepancies exist.
“So, if there is anyone who did not go through that process, I will know and I will confront my department if it’s in Grenada. If it’s in St Kitts, we will show them that the records show that Impacs did not have a say in it, did not give its approval, and then they should check and verify.”
Mitchell said that he will be meeting with CARICOM level crime and security management agencies to discuss compliance with due diligence procedures for CBI programs, operated by other Eastern Caribbean countries.
The news comes as the Indian government is reportedly hoping the United Nations Convention against corruption will help them get Mehul Choksi, a co-accused in India’s PNB bank fraud, detained and brought back from his Antigua and Barbuda haven where he secured citizenship under the CBI program.
The planned meeting will involve the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).
The meeting will allow representatives of JRCC and IMPACS to present the facts as they relate to compliance with established procedures for granting citizenship.
“If any one of us allows applicants to qualify for citizenship and receive passports without the regional checks being conducted, they will have the data and be able to present it to us,” the PM added. “The expectation is that countries would then confront their respective departments responsible for the CBI programs to address the matter accordingly.”
Mitchell also stressed the importance of maintaining the reputation of CBI programs because any discrepancies found within one program can impact the integrity of all the other programs operated regionally.
At present, Grenada, Antigua &Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Lucia are the regional countries with CBI offers.