During a panel discussion at the Investment Migration Forum in Geneva last week, CIU-heads and agents exchanged views on how to ensure the integrity of CBI real estate. The chairman of CIPA, furthermore, indicated a regional CBI-regulator could soon become a reality.
“We need to find a way of establishing a rigid framework by which developers can operate within the region,” said Nestor Alfred, head of the Saint Lucia CIU and current chairman of CIPA, the Citizenship by Investment Programme Association.
“It’s not rocket science,” commented Bashar Daoud, Managing Partner of Bluemina, who argued that what’s needed to ensure integrity for CBI real estate is independent price evaluations, the issuance of no more shares than what is commensurate with that evaluations, and the establishment of escrow accounts.
“The more he [the developer] builds, the more money gets released,” continued Daoud.
Daoud also questioned Moldova’s recently announced strategy of only permitting investors to qualify for citizenship through the acquisition of already built real estate.
“That defies the whole point of the program, which is to bring money in so you can build real estate, hire people, and create a great economy,” posited Daoud.
Emmanuel Nanthan, who heads Dominica’s CIU, noted that he was proud of how his country had managed its CBI real estate portfolio.
“We have always limited the number of projects approved at any one time,” he pointed out. “That ensures that the money coming into the program will be shared among a few projects, giving every project a fair opportunity to succeed.”
According to data on CBI Real Estate Watch, Dominica has the highest completion rate for approved projects of all CIPs.
Nanthan also highlighted how Dominica has applied CBI revenue to a housing program aimed at assisting those whose homes were lost to hurricanes in 2015 and 2017.
“We have now passed on keys to locals, for hurricane-resistant homes, a few hundred of them so far, and we’re looking at doing about a thousand of those,” revealed Nanthan.
Caribbean CIUs to share information, consider regional regulator
Nestor Alfred also informed the audience that a telephone conference had taken place recently in which CIPA had identified areas for closer cooperation.
The primary areas slated for collaboration, he said, was the standardization of application forms, the sharing of information – which he described as “paramount” –
“When one island denies an application, that information will be shared with all of the other islands,” said Alfred.
He further revealed that Caribbean leaders were considering the establishment of a regional regulatory authority to oversee the activities of the region’s CBI programs.
“We are closer to ensuring that we create some harmonization among the various programs in the region, and I firmly believe that this type of harmonization is more important now than ever before because of the onslaught of the EU, the European Parliament and all of the others, I believe this region needs to find ways of coming together as one, and to speak as one, and to ensure that we run these programs with great levels of integrity and due diligence.”
Watch the highlights below, or see the entire panel discussion here.