The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), has criticized Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s responses on the matter of changes to the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) regulations.
Opposition spokesman on investment, Doctor Ernest Hilaire, blasted Chastanet’s assertion that the rationale for removing the $3M net worth requirement for citizenship was because of issues regarding proof to be presented and how a determination would be made regarding veracity of a net worth claim.
Hilaire noted that the CIP regulation number 89 of 2015, regulation 7:3, indicates what an applicant has to present.
Hilaire questioned whether the Prime Minister has read the regulations.
He told a news conference Friday:
“Can I ask all Saint Lucians, if you apply for a visa or a mortgage and you are asked to present proof that you have a certain amount of money, what do you send? A Bank Reference, right. And how does the Bank prove it is valid ? They can examine the document to show that it is valid or they can call the Bank or financial institution to ask if it was issued.”
According to Hilaire, what the Prime Minister did not say was that the CIP also has an arrangement with a financial due diligence firm called Wealth X , to undertake financial due diligence on any applicant to prove that information provided is accurate in keeping with Regulation 3.
Hilaire recalled that the Prime Minister was asked at a news conference last night about the concern regarding the introduction of a Regulation for the CIP Board to retain 20% of donations to the National Economic Fund, when there are marketing agencies which get 10% to do marketing and promotions.
He stated that Chastanet explained that the 20% has nothing to do with the 10% since the 20% is because government now is the one funding the cost of the CIP.`
“The Amendment to Regulation 9, which was signed by the Prime Minister, says `The Board shall retain twenty percent of each monetary contribution to the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund for the marketing and promotion of the Citizenship by Investment Programme,’” the opposition spokesman on investment declared.
“This is crystal clear. But let us co-operate with the Prime Minister and say that the CIP does need money for its operations and salaries. Why did the new Regulation just say so! That the twenty percent is for operations! We don’t think it is legal for the Regulations to decide how the monies deposited in the National Economic Fund is to be used, only Parliament can approve the use. So why didn’t the Prime Minister, at the last sitting of Parliament, present the Report and ask Parliament to approve 20% of funds collected to be used for operational cost of the Unit?”
According to Hilaire, the Prime Minister says that he did not submit a Report because there is not much to say.
” Prime Minister, you asked for transparency and accountability, the provision that provides for such must be respected. The Report will inform Saint Lucians who have been granted citizenship, how much money has been collected and what will the money be used for. If for no other reason that had been done, there would be no need for a new Regulation which you now accept is an incorrect Regulation,” the Castries South MP observed.
“The explanation that there is little to say cannot be accepted. I must ask the Prime Minister, if a company makes a small profit or even a loss, does that mean they do not have to file annual returns?”
Hilaire said the Prime Minister tried very hard to assure Saint Lucians that the CIP continues to have the same level of due diligence and security concerns that it had when set up by the SLP.
But he asserted that there are two obvious reasons to question that the robust and rigid system will still be effective.
Hilaire noted that the DSH Agreement provides a guarantee that all applicants which they bring must be approved within 35 days, whereas each application must be thoroughly assessed on its own merit regardless of how long it takes.
He also argued that to remove the restriction that only high net worth of more than US$3M can qualify, means persons who are not investment inclined may see the CIP as a prime target, as they do not have such a difficult condition to satisfy.