Caribbean

Hilaire Defends CIP, Rejects Martinez’ Claims


Saint Lucia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, addressed the nation on June 12 to counter Philippe Martinez’ allegations of his taking part in a scheme to defraud US investors.

Hilaire’s public comments come days after Martinez announced during an interview that MSR is adding Hilaire as a defendant in the RICO lawsuit against Caribbean CBI officials.

Martinez revealed that changing Hilaire’s status came as a response to new information MSR had gathered. During the interview, he indicated that a visit from Mc Claude Emmanuel, Chief Executive of Saint Lucia’s CIP, had preceded his decision to include Hilaire in the suit.

Emmanuel later rejected that claim and argued that MSR had not “substantiated the allegation of any scam in the Saint Lucia CIP” during the meeting.

Hilaire addresses the public

Hilaire began his speech by denying that the Saint Lucia CIP Unit approved 14,000 applications for Galaxy’s projects.

“From July 2021 to March 2024, the CIP Unit in Saint Lucia approved 2,047 applications, of which 1,367 were Real Estate for Caribbean Galaxy Resort. Contrary to what Mr. Martinez has said in a publicized interview and repeated by Allen Chastanet and the UWP, Saint Lucia has never approved 14,000 applications.”

He said such numbers could not, “in any mathematical calculations, equate to US$1.2 or US$1.4 billion.”

Note that, during his interview, Martinez claimed that the St Lucian government allocated Galaxy 14,000 shares to sell – not that the government had approved that many applications.

Addressing allegations about the use of a Chinese due diligence firm, which Martinez claims Galaxy handpicked to vet its own applicants in a clear conflict of interest, Hilaire pointed out that “it was under the Allen Chastanet Government that a Chinese due diligence firm was being used, but that was stopped in November 2021 under the SLP Administration.”

Hilaire also touched on legislative changes made under the previous UWP government: “Again, the truth is, the legislation, which was passed by the SLP Administration in 2015, required that the escrow accounts be held in Saint Lucia and held jointly.”

He stated that the UWP administration changed the regulations to allow developers to establish overseas escrow accounts, which allowed Galaxy to set up an account in Hong Kong and become the only signatory. He said retorted that it “was Allen Chastanet who created the so-called Wild West.”

Hilaire announced plans to engage an international audit firm to review the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) operations since its establishment in 2016 and said now was “the ideal time to engage an international audit firm” for the purpose.

The audit, he said, would confirm precise application and approval data, as well as information on CBI income and disbursements.

The Minister also addressed the so-called Infrastructure Option, under which the government allegedly allocated some 5,000 CBI shares to Galaxy last year:

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“In December 2023, the Cabinet of Saint Lucia approved an Infrastructure Option which was launched in March 2024 and is intended to provide for infrastructure projects around the island. Galaxy applied and was approved to be a developer to finance infrastructure projects. No approvals have yet been given for the infrastructure option.”

Hilaire also disclosed that St Lucia has approved another developer for the construction of a 64-unit housing and commercial project in Rock Hall, Castries, and that the government is assessing another application for a housing and commercial development in Belvedere, Canaries. He affirmed that under the current agreement with Galaxy, the developer must provide US$100 million for infrastructure projects.

Regarding allegations of corruption within the CIP, Hilaire was defiant in defending the program’s integrity. He noted that when the government caught wind that international marketing agents (IMAs) and promoters were marketing citizenship below the minimum amount, the CIU “immediately sent out memos and or press releases indicating that this action should cease immediately” and that the government has publicly denounced this marketing practice.

He also affirmed the government’s stance on banning IMAs and promoters from advertising the CIP based on visa-free access.

The Minister pointed out that the government is “not in a position to control private agreements between developers, promoters, and applicants.”

Hilaire pointed out the government’s priorities within the CIP for it to consider that a developer has met their legal obligations:

  • The applicant undergoes a rigorous due diligence process
  • The government receives its fees
  • The applicant makes the required legal investment in the escrow account related to the project

Finally, Hilaire addressed opposition leader and former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s comments on the issue: “Recently, Allen Chastanet publicly said that whilst he was Prime Minister and Minister responsible for CIP, he was aware of sales being done below the legal price and caused an investigation to be done and found nothing illegal or wrong in what was being done. Despite this, he joins with Mr. Martinez to state what is being allegedly done by an investor that he approved to be in Saint Lucia is wrong, illegal and a scam. Such hypocrisy!”

He claimed that Chastanet “has aligned himself with this individual who has clearly embarked on a quest to destroy Saint Lucia and the CIP,” and that the former Prime Minister’s accusations were “false, baseless, malicious, and scandalous.”

Chastanet had previously accused the current administration of launching “a new, secret infrastructure option” and that a developer (who he did not name) was selling it at $80,000. Chastanet has yet to provide any evidence to back his claim.

Chastanet seemed to back Martinez when speaking on Emmanuel’s meeting with the film producer, saying: “Is it Mr Martinez, who came out since Thursday, or you [Emmanuel], that have hidden behind a statement? He didn’t even have the courage to have a press conference to allow the local media to ask you the pertinent questions, to bring clarity to what you have written.”

“Catastrophe of massive proportion”

One day before Hilaire’s press conference, Martinez held another interview on DBS Television and claimed to have uncovered a piece of evidence backing MSR’s allegations that would represent “a catastrophe of massive proportion for every CBI stakeholder.” Martinez did not reveal what evidence he claims to have obtained but did state that he would be happy to send it to Hilaire or St Lucia’s Attorney General if they requested it.

Martinez then suggested that another independent investigation was the reason he obtained this purported evidence. He claimed that “a reporter of one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world has been working for a few weeks after we filed the RICO lawsuit and took the content of the lawsuit, and did some digging. That reporter called me on Sunday to tell me what she found. What she found is of Biblical proportion in terms of security breach and due diligence of that Chinese due diligence company.”

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Ahmad Abbas AdministratorAuthorSubscriberParticipant
Director of Content Services , Investment Migration Insider

Ahmad Abbas is Director of Content Services at Investment Migration Insider and an 8-year veteran of the investment migration industry.

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