Citizenship by Investment

The Bizarre World of Citizenship by Investment: Where Due Diligence Takes a Vacation

In the wild world of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs, recent cases of corruption involving government officials have finally unveiled the shocking truth – due diligence, the process designed to weed out the unsavoury characters, has taken an extended vacation on a tropical island.

For years, this due diligence process has revolved around scrutinising the applicants seeking citizenship through these programs. But guess what? It's time to redirect our magnifying glass towards the real stars of the show – the government departments and staff managing these CBI programs. And just to keep things interesting, let's throw in some financial audits that are as rare as a unicorn sighting and make them public. After all, who doesn't love a good financial mystery novel? We're doing it all in the name of safeguarding national interests, of course.

The Seductive Allure of Golden Passports

CBI programs have been the shiny baubles dangled in front of countries, promising economic growth, foreign investments, and a fresh start for new citizens. But, as it turns out, these programs have a dark side, like a hidden compartment in a treasure chest. The European Union, the USA, Canada, and other key players have been yelling from the mountaintops about the illicit flow of funds and the potential influx of shady characters. Recently, The Guardian dropped a bombshell, revealing that Dominica may have been handing out "golden passports" like candy on Halloween. The small island country's CBI industry is so lucrative that it's practically printing money, but no one seems to know where it's all going.

High-Flying Corruption Drama

St. Lucia, the new kid on the Caribbean block, has made quite a name for itself in the CBI game. It may be late to the party, but it sure knows how to make an entrance – with high-profile corruption cases involving government officials and state actors. It's like a reality TV show where you can't look away from the train wreck. Minister Ernest Hillaire, a key player in the CBI scheme, has allegations of VAT fraud during his time as a high commissioner in the UK. He's also got a starring role in a defamation case that could rival any legal drama, even making its way to the privy courts. To make matters more interesting, his brother has a cushy job as a Permanent Secretary in a ministry led by Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, despite the usual non-political nature of such roles. It's like a family affair – St. Lucia edition.

But wait, there's more! Minister Richard Frederick has his own Wikileaks page that paints a rather unsettling picture. And that's not all. CIP board members have been accused of some shady behaviour, with one board member going as far as taking legal action against "reckless and false" allegations. The CEO, Mr. Mc Claude Emmanuel, went from a mobile lead for Cable and Wireless to handling hundreds of millions in CIP funds. However, according to the United Workers Party (uwpstlucia.com), an incredible $91 million remains unaccounted for in Saint Lucia, and there are whispers that he owes his position to a Minister. Confidence? What's that?

I just wonder if there is any other nepotism in the custodian of funds that is CIP that links back to the Ministers and PMO office. I guess only time will tell, but hey, it's worth supporting people, right? 

Due Diligence on Government Departments

So, it's time to switch things up. Instead of just peeking into the murky closets of CBI applicants, let's dig into the government departments responsible for running these programs. Transparency International, the global anti-corruption superhero, says it's essential to figure out where the skeletons might be hiding and ensure these programs run smoothly. Who needs applicants' backgrounds when you can have a behind-the-scenes look at government operations? I would mention freedom of information, but it's just a floating word in St Lucia. 

The People Deserve the Show

Of course, the public deserves a front-row seat to this drama. They should know how their government handles all that CBI cash. Making financial audits public about the staff and ministers involved in CIP can be the blockbuster hit we've all been waiting for. Who doesn't love a good financial exposé? More so, I know first-hand many institutions in Europe and North America who would be keen to see evidence that they should trust the words of the Government. 

Protecting the Nation's Reputation – The Epic Quest

A nation's reputation is its most precious treasure. Recent corruption cases in St. Lucia have shown that skipping due diligence can lead to a perilous quest. By putting national interest first, governments can save their reputation and ensure lasting prosperity. And you never know, by a miracle, serve a second term. If only the DeLorean exists, mind you.

In the end, CBI programs can be the heroes of economic development. But recent corruption cases have shown that it's time to rewrite the script. We must shift our focus from scrutinising just the applicants to giving government departments and staff their time in the spotlight. Plus, let's make financial audits a public affair to keep things exciting. When it comes to transparency and integrity, it's not just a suggestion; it's the responsibility we've all been waiting for.

Moreover, and now jokes aside, the people of St Lucia, including those within the Indian-origin community, deserve better with rising violence, mounting debt and harsh realities on employment prospects. It’s a country that should never have been placed in a position where its integrity and national culture are in question. The decisions that Governments make today will leave echoes for the future of generations to come. It will determine whether allegations of corruption and lack of vision lead children to lives of quiet desperation or emerge as a shining example of a new country with a future. 

Let the show begin.

Rajan Nazran

Rajan Nazran is an explorer and journalist. He uses his unique voice and experience as an instrument to narrate profound experiences in different countries, cultures and communities.

4 Comments

  1. Excellent article, and a wake-up call! I hasten to add, as an African of Indian origin, that there is another consideration: Get stinking rich quick without leaving home. The way to wealth is foreign direct investment. However, if contemplating this in any of Africa’s 54 countries, the catchphrase is, Caveat subscriptor! – ‘Investor beware!’ Here, I agree that a due diligence review, even one of limited scope would help. While certain phenomena may be common cause – coups, rigged elections, nepotism – and not unique to Africa, their perpetuation leaves poor folk hungry and helpless. The globe is open and an investor can go anywhere on the planet, vulnerable, but unprotected it is also vulnerable. There is a big lie factor alongside denialism in FDI and tourism promotion, more so in South Africa. We may deny that we have the highest rate of femicide, among the top three in rape, murder, kidnapping, organised crime… Corruption persisted during the apartheid era, but more subtly than now. Widespread and deep-rooted corruption and maladministration has given rise to what could be unique forms of Mafia – electricity, water, construction, public procurement, etc. The situation is likely to worsen, in a failed state where government persists in lies while lurching from one crisis after another, perhaps toward a state of anarchy. Don’t bother about CBI here – you, your family, and your staff’s safety is not guaranteed.

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