Caribbean

St. Kitts PM: Prepared to “Revoke Citizenships Obtained by Fraud”


Prime Minister Terrance Drew of Saint Kitts & Nevis indicates he is following the MSR lawsuit closely and that he is “prepared to take the necessary statutory steps […] and revoke citizenships obtained by fraud.”

Last week MSR Media filed a RICO lawsuit in a US federal court in Florida. In it, the movie production company alleges that a number of Caribbean citizenship by investment officials and developers, together with the former government of Saint Kitts & Nevis, colluded to defraud investors and engaged in money laundering and corruption by, among other actions, selling citizenships for sums well below the official threshold through a variety of surreptitious mechanisms.

At the same time, MSR Media also filed a claim for judicial review in the Kittitian High Court to seek a mandamus that would oblige the Prime Minister “to revoke all citizenships granted to applicants under the Galaxy Jail who paid less than the legal price.”

PM Drew says his administration has “already instructed King’s Counsel to act in this judicial review matter.”

He also clarified that should the review uncover cases of citizenships having been granted in an unlawful manner, “with or without the lawsuit, I am, and always have been, prepared to take the necessary statutory steps under the Citizenship Act to protect our Federation’s good name and revoke citizenships obtained by fraud.”

However, he also emphasized that he would only take such action “on the basis of facts and evidence, as every citizen of this country has the right to due process.”

PM Drew is the second Caribbean leader in the space of a week to publicly commit to revoking citizenships obtained by “underselling.” The first was PM Skerrit of Dominica, who last week told industry stakeholders gathered at the Caribbean Investment Summit that he had put in place legislation that would see anyone found to have obtained citizenship by investment in that country for anything less than the officially permitted minimum have their citizenships revoked.

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In its filing, MSR Media claims that the number of citizenships granted in this “fraudulent” manner is in the thousands, and the court may decide that this was the case. Should the judicial review, independent of the lawsuit in Florida, conclude that these citizenships were obtained fraudulently or otherwise unlawfully, the Kittitian PM would be in a difficult position:

If he proceeds to revoke thousands of citizenships, it could cause immeasurable damage to the program’s reputation and sharply reduce demand for the CIP. If he doesn’t, the program’s integrity and security could suffer a disastrous blow, strengthening the European Union’s case for ending the visa-free travel regime to the Schengen area for Kittitians.

Philippe May, CEO of CBI advisory EC Holdings, told IMI he welcomes Caribbean PMs’ promises to revoke fraudulently obtained citizenships. Questioned as to whether clients who obtained citizenship by paying the amounts asked of them held the same level of responsibility as the developers and agents who allegedly sold them discounted investments, he answered categorically:

“Any client who underpaid did so willfully and willingly and deserves to be stripped of citizenship. No client can claim that he didn’t know what the legal minimum was. Now, that doesn’t exonerate all the agents, many of whom actively encouraged this malfeasance. Both agents and applicants appear to have colluded here.”

Shortly upon taking office after the 2022 general election, Prime Minister Drew ordered an internal review of the CBI program he inherited from his predecessors and soon decided to double the minimum investment amounts for the Saint Kitts & Nevis CIP. As a consequence, for more than a year, the program has been nearly twice as expensive as its Caribbean peers.

Earlier this year, however, PM Drew spearheaded the regional Memorandum of Agreement among the Caribbean CBI countries, which seeks to harmonize regulations and, crucially, pricing at the level Saint Kitts & Nevis CIP has maintained for the last year.

Saint Lucia, initially, was the only Caribbean CBI country that refrained from signing the MoA, citing a need for “additional time to address some housekeeping matters and discuss legal obligations.” While authorities in Saint Lucia have not confirmed it, industry observers generally agree that the legal obligations referred to relate to Saint Lucia’s agreement with Caribbean Galaxy (a developer that is among the defendants in the MSR RICO case) to sell several thousand citizenships to fund an infrastructure project in the country.

Last week, during an industry summit in Grenada, Mc Claude Emmanuel – head of the Saint Lucia CIU and the only Saint Lucian defendant in the MSR suit – confirmed his country’s prime minister would sign the MoA but did not specify when. Saint Lucia’s government, moreover, has issued a statement in which it maintained it had “no business with Philippe Martinez”, the head of MSR Media, that CIU-boss Emmanuel had been nothing but laudable, and refuted a number of the movie producer’s claims from the lawsuit.

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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.

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