The US government has cited the Citizenship by Investment Program in three Caribbean countries for “lack of transparency” in the latest Human Rights Report released Tuesday.
In the ‘Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government,’ section, the 2020 report identifies the CIP programs in Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica and St. Kitts & Nevis as citizen concerns on oversight and corruption due to a lack of openness.
In Antigua & Barbuda, the US pointed to reports of government corruption by the media and private citizens including the September 2020 clash of Prime Minister Gaston Browne and a prominent member of his political party, who traded public and specific accusations of corruption in government procurement and other areas that neither person refuted.
In Dominica, the US report pointed to local media and opposition leadership, who continue to raise allegations of corruption within the government, including in the Citizenship by Investment program and pointed to the fact that while the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials … the government implemented the law inconsistently.”
And in St. Kitts & Nevis, the US report pointed to media and private citizens reporting on government corruption “occasionally” even as citizens “expressed concern about the lack of financial oversight of revenues generated by the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program.”
But the US report also pointed out that the St. Kitts & Nevis Timothy Harris government introduced security measures in 2018 to make the CBI process more transparent and began vetting investors.
Though the report noted that “the government did not publicize the number of passports issued through CBI or the nationalities of the passport holders.”
The CIP Programs in the Eastern Caribbean countries have been a source of continued criticism by the US and many nationals locally who question the use of “donation” funds that are part of the attractive offer for a second passport in these jurisdictions and visa free travel to between 152 and 162 countries.
In Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica, the minimum economic contribution (or donation to the country under the government’s investor visa program starts at US$100,000 while in St. Kitts & Nevis, the “donation” starts at US$150,000.
Five Caribbean countries offer the CIP programs but neither Grenada nor St. Lucia were cited for lack of transparency in the report.