BASSETERRE, St Kitts — Allegations of fraud in the citizenship by investment programme of St Kitts and Nevis have followed revelations supported by documentary evidence that agents in Dubai are selling passports at substantially below government-sanctioned rates.
Caribbean News Now is in possession of a copy of a letter purportedly sent by the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of St Kitts and Nevis to a local authorised agent. The letter states that “the application via real estate option” in a named development for a specified individual “has been approved in principle for Citizenship by Investment”.
The letter goes on to say that “payment of US$150,000 must be made within six months”. However, the minimum amount required by law under the real estate option is an investment of $200,000, not $150,000 as stated in the letter.
The citizenship agents concerned told Caribbean News Now that the firm “has never received such a letter from the unit and has never forwarded such a letter to anyone.”
“On learning of this development, we have met with the CIU and have written officially to request that the unit fully investigate this matter,” the firm said in a written statement.
In response to a request for clarification and comment, Les Khan, CEO of the CIU, told Caribbean News Now that there are no government sanctioned discounts on any of the investment options. He insisted that the unit does not accept applications for any of its offerings below the price that is published in the regulations.
“Any letters from the unit will reflect the amounts as published,” he said. “In the case of the contribution, our letter will stipulate the contribution amount and whether it was the Hurricane Relief Fund, the Sustainable Growth Fund or the SIDF [Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation].”
Khan went on to state that the “contribution letters will not stipulate any development. In terms of the real estate offering, an approval letter will have the real estate fees required for the investment,” adding that “This letter will have the name of the development.”
Given that the letter in question purports to be an approval letter under the real estate option, “the real estate fees required for the investment” are conspicuous by their absence. It appears instead to be based on a “contribution letter” that has been tampered with in some way, including the somewhat curious turn of phrase “the application via real estate option”.
According to Khan, the matter is currently under investigation by the CIU but, in the meantime, the flurry of agents in the Middle East offering St Kitts and Nevis citizenship at the greatly reduced rates outlined above has yet to be explained.
This revelation follows allegations at a recent press conference by leader of the opposition, Dr Denzil Douglas, that the government is allowing St Kitts and Nevis economic citizenship to be sold for as little as US$37,500,
In a press statement last week, Khan said he had just returned from a marketing trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where he took the opportunity to have a series of one-to-one meetings with agents across those territories in order to reinforce that the investment options remain unchanged at US$400,000 and US$200,000 for real estate and US$150,000 for the Sustainable Growth Fund (for a single applicant).
However, the allegations by Douglas have been reinforced, and Khan’s denials contradicted, by a number of advertisements appearing on social media in the Middle East, confirmed by direct messages from the citizenship consultants involved seen by Caribbean News Now.
For example, Savory & Partners explicitly offer St Kitts and Nevis citizenship for a single applicant for $113,347 “all inclusive”, which presumably refers to the government’s additional due diligence fee of $7,500.
This compares to the government’s published total of $167,500 ($150,000 + $7,500) and, according to Savory & Partners, represents a “limited time offer for our valued clients”.
Another firm, Citizenship Invest, offers an even lower “limited offer” rate of $100,000.
Multi Passports offers yet another lower rate of $99,000 “all inclusive” for a single applicant, as well as $145,000, again “all inclusive”, for a family of four, compared to the rate stated on the CIU website of $195,000 plus due diligence fees.
AAA Associates advertises a family rate of $155,000, also confirmed by direct messages seen by Caribbean News Now, compared to the official rate of $195,000 plus due diligence fees.
It is not yet clear what prompted at least four agents, and reportedly many more, to start offering St Kitts and Nevis citizenship at these substantially reduced investment requirements when the CIU is saying that such options are not in fact available.
Major stakeholders in the economic citizenship industry are now demanding answers, as pressure grows on the St Kitts and Nevis government to explain the contradictions between its exculpatory statements and the available evidence.