UK to “Increase Scrutiny” of Caribbean CIPs – Antigua Govt. Welcomes Audit

Yesterday, the UK government sent a notice to its Eastern Caribbean counterparts informing them it would increase scrutiny of all citizenship by investment programs (CIPs) in the region to determine whether they could undermine the UK’s national security, according to the Antigua Observer.

The Antiguan government today expressed confidence that any assessment of its CIP would stand up to even the closest of scrutiny. Information Minister Melford Nicholas revealed at a post-Cabinet press briefing that Charmaine Quinland-Donovan, the Chief Executive of the country’s CIU, had assured the administration it need not worry about any adverse outcome of such examinations.

“She was able to indicate that a number of the OECS jurisdictions who have similar programs have made certain changes and are looking towards adopting some of the measures that we have in place,” said Nicholas, who characterized CIP security protocols as “stringent”.

Nicholas also disclosed that a meeting between British High Commissioner Lindsy Thompson, CIU-head Quinland-Donovan, and Prime Minister Gaston Browne would take place “in the coming days” and that the information presented to the UK government would be favorable.

He further added that the government would allocate the necessary resources to lobby for a more favorable outcome should they receive early indications of the UK’s examination going in an undesired direction.

The Minister of Information also expressed hopes that regional governments would collaborate more closely with Antigua & Barbuda to “ensure that, as a common group, we are doing everything possible to stave off any debilitating changes that may occur in the EU.”

Among Caribbean CBI jurisdictions, Antigua & Barbuda’s government (which last week secured a third term) has been the most vocal about the need for the region to cooperate in forestalling any loss of visa-free travel to the EU. In July, Melford Nicholas said his government had proactively engaged the EU in active dialogue and expressed a willingness to fully “open the kimono” by letting the European Commission audit the CIP.

“We are doing that engagement and, hopefully, at the end of it, we will be able to demonstrate that our program is not as they would perceive,” Nicholas said at the time.