Although the Citizenship by Investment industry is continuously expanding, it is often misunderstood. Investment-based second citizenship programs came under scrutiny recently, after the American show, “60 Minutes,” expressed a biased view with a particular negative focus on the Caribbean.
The importance of foreign capital for the countries offering citizenship is immeasurable. The investments made for citizenship come from people who have clean records, and who have legitimately acquired their funds. These people are in search for better futures for themselves and their families, whether it be to strengthen the travel freedom allowed by their current passports, or to secure safer second homes.
Citizenship by Investment was actually founded in the Caribbean, with St. Kitts and Nevis launching the first program in 1984. Over the past 32 years, the small Caribbean nation brought many benefits to its people and economy through its Citizenship by Investment Program. Foreign investment funds were used to improve the country’s infrastructure, increase housing, and develop education, all the while boasting a thriving economy and decreasing debt. In fact, the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, with its many years of experience and success, remains one of the best immigration programs in the world today.
The importance of the Citizenship by Investment Program is obvious to the small Caribbean island of Dominica. After one of the deadliest natural disasters, Storm Erika, hit Dominica in August 2015, the nation experienced devastating conditions. Thousands of homes were left inhabitable and had to be rebuilt. With the help of foreign investments through its Citizenship by Investment Program, however, Dominica was able to rebuild its economy and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Luxury hotels are being constructed to attract more tourists to promote growth. In fact, nearly 40% of Dominica’s GDP derived from its Citizenship by Investment Program.
The Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, understands the importance of foreign investment to the nation and will continue to ensure best practices of the Citizenship by Investment Program in order to maintain its reputation as a respectable and legitimate program. All investments received through Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Program are reviewed by the government for dispersal in the national budget, and each individual investor is methodically inspected. Prime Minister Skerrit also began training all government personnel working on Citizenship by Investment applications in anti-money laundering to safeguard the nation from illegally acquired funds.
The episode of “60 Minutes” played off Citizenship by Investment to be a scheme whereby anyone could just buy a passport, including felons in need of escaping their home country. However, this is not the case. The episode failed to mention the due diligence applied by countries offering investment immigration programs, with the Caribbean having the strictest procedures. There was no emphasis on the intense examination by enforcement agencies that each applicant is subject to. These programs have been around for as long as they have due to the adherence of strict due diligence and best practice. The Caribbean nations have their own due diligence processes performed on applicants, while also outsourcing due diligence to internationally renowned risk management firms that investigate applicants independently from the government. Applicants have their backgrounds checked, as well as the source of their funds. Due diligence procedures have been fine-tuned to not let any illegal characters through. In the event that something or someone shady does bypass the due diligence checks, the Caribbean nations have no issue revoking citizenship for misrepresentations of an unlawful nature.
The integrity of the Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs is in large part accredited to the commitment and devotion of each country’s leaders to improve their nations. Citizenship by Investment Programs have had a tremendous impact on these Caribbean countries, allowing them to grow when other sources of funding are simply unattainable. Foreign investors can obtain travel freedom and security through citizenship, while each nation enhances its economy and strives for sustainable growth. There is nothing wrong with investment immigration programs, or with their use as a development tool. What is most important is the rigour of their implementation, and for that, all countries should aspire to implement due diligence procedures like the Caribbean does.
For more information on Citizenship by Investment Programs in the Caribbean, please click here.
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