The Citizenship by Investment Board has noted the article published by the Voice Newspaper on Saturday April 23 in which the Managing Partner, Dr. Juerg Steffen of Henley and Partners, an immigration advisory firm made certain criticisms of Saint Lucia’s four month old Citizenship by Investment Programme.
The Board respects anyone’s right to critique CIP Saint Lucia and in fact welcomes such critiques as they give us a chance to re-examine our programme and continue to improve. However, where necessary the Board will correct misconceptions and inaccuracies about CIP Saint Lucia.
The issue of requiring a minimum net worth USD 3M has been a topic of much debate and we have received both positive and negative feedback to having this requirement. Having a minimum net worth requirement is one of the ways in which CIP Saint Lucia distinguishes itself. Given the programme is limited to 500 approvals annually, it ensures that it is indeed high net worth individuals who apply.
So far there has been tremendous interest in our real estate projects precisely because our tourism product is up market. The USD $300,000 price point is a minimum requirement and does not determine the market price set by the developers. Furthermore, our programme is targeted to the development of our tourism product rather that the sale of residential properties which further accounts for the price differential. We wish to clarify that CIP Saint Lucia does not award citizenship for the purchase of shares in the development company. It is expected that announcements of the CIP Approved Projects will be made shortly.
Whereas Henley & Partners has expressed the opinion that the Government Bonds option is a bad one, this criticism is based on a misunderstanding of this investment option. Annually, the Government of Saint Lucia raises funds by the issuing of bonds. Often these issues are not fully subscribed and therefore there are short falls in the funding estimates. The Government of Saint Lucia has made USD $20,000,000 worth of bonds available for sale through the CIP. These five year bonds are non-interest bearing. Therefore the bonds sold under CIP Saint Lucia will significantly reduce the cost of borrowing while making the bonds more attractive.
Of particular concern is Steffen’s claim that “there has been no transparency or open tender process” for engaging marketing agencies. A selective tendering process was used where three recognized marketing agents were invited to make presentations to Board.
Henley and Partners participated fully in this process.
Following the tender analysis, the Board offered contracts to all three firms. The decision to offer multiple contracts represented a shift away from the practice of having a single exclusive marketing agent. This is another distinguishing feature of CIP Saint Lucia.
Arton Capital and CS Global Partners accepted our offers while Henley and Partners, who had expressed a wish to be the exclusive marketing agent, declined to partner with us. The names of the firms selected as Marketing Agents have been published as required by the legislation.
The Citizenship by Investment Board will not publish details of contracts entered into with any of its service providers just as it will not publish the details of negotiations and communications with Henley and Partners. To do so would be unprofessional even as it serves to illustrate that Steffen’s comments represent a new position which had not been previously expressed to us.
The Citizenship by Investment Act No. 14 of 2015 and the Citizenship by Investment Regulations No. 89 of 2015 as well as all guidelines issued by the Citizenship by Investment Board are published on our website www.cipsaintlucia.com
The Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit remains available to discuss any and all aspects of CIP Saint Lucia with the media and the public.
Please feel free to contact the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, Cindy Emmanuel-McLean at 1-758-458-6050.