Processing Delays a Result of “Financing and Discounting Schemes of the Past,” Says St. Kitts CIU Boss

Following a surprise increase in minimum investment and donation amounts, which has thus far not been mirrored by other programs in the region, the Saint Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program has seen a reduction in application volume, admits the CIU-boss Michael Martin in an exclusive interview with IMI.

Questioned as to why it has taken the new administration more than 18 months to return the funds of investors it initially granted approvals, but that it later rescinded, Martin chalks the delay up to “budgetary adjustments”, which have now been completed, finally allowing for refunds to commence.

What has happened to application volume since the price increase? We understand it has naturally dipped, but can you tell us to what extent?

Martin: The increase in investment thresholds has naturally resulted in an expected dip in the volume of applications. The increase in the minimum investment requirements is a vital part of our strategy to stabilize the program after the “race to the bottom” that resulted from the proliferation of discounting and financing schemes.

Our focus is now on attracting serious, discerning investors who want to take advantage of the many opportunities available in St. Kitts and Nevis, with the added bonus of being conferred with the honor of citizenship of our country.

Why has it taken so long to initiate the refund process with regard to the Russian/Belarusian applicants?

Martin: The decision to stop processing applications of Russian and Belarusian citizens and residents was taken by the former administration in March 2022.

As you may be aware, there was a change of government in August 2022, and the new administration immediately set about tackling the issue within the context of an inherited budget.

The required budgetary adjustments have now been made and, as a result, the refund process has started.

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We understand the Unit invited these applicants to invest even after their nationalities had been excluded from the program and later decided not to issue citizenships.

If these reports are correct, why did this happen? If the Unit had no intention of issuing citizenships to these applicants, why ask them to invest in the first place?

Martin: There is no truth whatsoever in that statement. All processing and acceptance of applications from Russian and Belarusian citizens and residents ceased in March 2022.

What motivated Saint Kitts & Nevis to roughly double its investment/donation minimum requirements independent of other Caribbean CIPs? Was it, as many have posited, a preemptive move to mollify EU concerns?

Martin: Our decision to raise prices was driven primarily by the government’s plan to refocus and redirect the program.

A critical part of this new thrust was to exit the price war – the so-called race to the bottom. We are fully aware of the international environment in which all CBI programs operate, and our new direction is also geared towards enhancing collaboration and cooperation with our international partners.

Since making this decision, serious investors have shown increased interest in our program, so we are confident that we are on the right path and that our decision will begin paying off as we go into 2024.

Several long-time agents have requested that we ask you when they can expect to hear back from the CIU regarding delayed applications. What can you tell them?

We are making a concerted effort to clear the backlog, which is, to a great extent, the result of the aforementioned financing and discounting schemes of the past. That is a key reason why I have restricted traveling for most of this year. As a former service provider myself, I understand the frustrations of our stakeholders and very much appreciate their patience as we work to resolve these issues.

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