Antigua Observer:-Deputy Head of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), Thomas Anthony has strongly criticised, as unbalanced, a CBS ‘60 Minutes’ report on the sale of nationality in the region.
Thomas, who is the deputy chief executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, said while the report dubbed ‘Passports for Sale,’ which aired on Sunday night, highlighted the negatives of CIP, it failed to show the positives.
He said after watching the show, it became clear to him that “either the producers are bent on highlighting the negative aspects of Citizenship by Investment Programmes deliberately without providing the other view, or they are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the programmes”.
Thomas said there was not enough information provided about the quality of the due diligence that is done before an applicant’s passport is granted or the background checks carried out.
“We have a multi-tiered approach to due diligence, and there was very little time spent on the robustness of the background checks,” he added.
The programme’s host, Steve Kroft, said the programmes are legal ways to avoid visa controls that allow countries to screen people coming into their country, or allow people to change their identities.
“…It’s also an opportunity for shady characters to mask their true identities, and avoid suspicion as they travel around the globe,” he said.
The failings of St Kitts and Nevis’ CIP programme was featured heavily in the production, as well.
According to Kroft, the country had to recall over 5000 passports because of missing information or the applicant’s name had been changed.
The report also highlighted a number of incidents where people who had purchased St Kitts and Nevis passports ran afoul of the law, including three suspected Iranian operatives who were caught using their passports to launder money for banks in Tehran in violation of US sanctions.
During the near 15- minute presentation, the former legal adviser for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security, Peter Vincent said, “They’re not transparent programmes. There are no safeguards in place.”
Vincent believes CIP presents a global security threat