LONDON, January 24, 2019
LONDON, January 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --
As the citizenship by investment industry become more widely known, it becomes ever more necessary for countries to ensure the integrity and high quality of their programmes. By pioneering industry best practices and a strict due diligence programme, St Kitts and Nevis' long-standing Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme is an example of a reliable and first-class programme.
25 years ago, St Kitts and Nevis introduced its CBI programme. The first in the world, the nation has subsequently gained over two decades worth of experience and knowledge and has adapted its Programme to industry change. More recently, new countries have joined the industry. With less experience than St Kitts and Nevis, their programmes are of course less developed and those who run them less knowledgeable. St Kitts and Nevis' Programme, with its strong and robust due diligence programme, best practices, and Platinum level standard, stands apart.
Under the Programme, applicants invest in the country in return for Kittitian and Nevisian citizenship. Every application must pass the multi-tiered and multi-jurisdictional due diligence procedures as set down by law. These procedures engage the services of national and international independent bodies to verify applicants and take three months to execute. Already, this is far longer than the processing times of other CBI or RBI (residence by investment) jurisdictions - some of which take mere weeks. The list of documents the applicant is required to provide is extensive. It comprises detailed information of applicants' occupation, education, personal and residential histories, criminal records, and source(s) of wealth, with evidence to support. Many documents must either be originals or certified and legalised colour copies. Biometric data, such as fingerprints, must also be provided. Each application is then inspected by multiple national and government bodies trained in fraud, financial terrorism, and money laundering detection, and international bodies such as Interpol. Applicants themselves are checked against global criminal registers and terrorism databases. All applications require a due diligence fee. This applies regardless of the outcome of the application, thereby removing any potential conflict of interest.
Such wide-ranging and thorough due diligence is unique to St Kitts and Nevis. As such, it has garnered international acclaim and respect from industry experts. Heyrick Bond Gunning, CEO of S-RM, a global due diligence firm, has said that the "exhaustive" due diligence procedures conducted by countries like St Kitts and Nevis, "should be a staple of all CBI programmes that aspire to success and durability." In the global CBI Index 2018, published by the Financial Times' Professional Wealth Management Magazine, the Programme achieved full marks (10/10) for Due Diligence. A glance at the Index shows the difference between St Kitts and Nevis and other jurisdictions. Given that this extensive security system is the fundamental basis on which the Programme operates, it is impossible to compare it with others whose due diligence is far less developed.
St Kitts and Nevis is responsible for devising many best practices over the years. For example, the Programme requires 12 months' original bank statements from every investor and carries out on-the-ground checks of applicants' businesses to determine their validity. Similarly, the whole Programme is run by a separate government unit, namely the Citizenship by Investment Unit, which was devised solely for that purpose.
Despite all this, a common misconception still arises. Due to the visa-free travel experienced by Kittitian and Nevisian citizens, some worry that by helping persons travel to places such as Europe or other countries without the obtainment of a country-specific-visa, CBI programmes could pose an economic or security risk to receiving countries. However, this overlooks the critical point that the security requirements of the Programme are far more rigorous than those of any European visa regime. Consequently, HNWIs entering European countries not subject to their specific visa requirements have already passed far greater economic and security checks.
Whilst it is understandable that such a perception would arise, as programmes are frequently lumped together, it is crucial to appreciate the different leagues of CBI programme. By setting such a high standard and possessing unparalleled experience, St Kitts and Nevis firmly establishes its Programme as one of integrity and quality.