My Fellow Citizens and Residents, I address you this evening in my capacity as the Prime Minister of our beloved country.
Over the past few days, the public has become aware of news reports that two of our Economic Citizens resident here in the Federation have been alleged to have defrauded State institutions in the Peoples Republic of China of US$100 million.
There are unfounded allegations that the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has been harbouring these individuals who are on the Interpol Wanted List and have not cooperated with the Chinese government.
There is the further baseless allegation that Government Officials were to be paid US$190,000 for protecting these individuals.
In my capacity as the Prime Minister of this country I wish to make it clear that I reject in the strongest terms the allegation that my Government is harbouring any fugitives in our country. I categorically deny as well the assertion that my Government is somehow failing to cooperate with a request with any country as mandated by law. I state further that no evidence has been provided to law enforcement or otherwise that any public official has been offered or has received any money for protection in this matter. These assertions are a malicious fabrication calculated to tarnish the hard won reputation of our beloved country.
Here therefore are the facts:
i. The individuals concerned applied for and obtained St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship in September 2013 during the tenure of the Denzil Douglas regime.
ii. On 26 May, 2014, USNCB Interpol Washington issued what is known as a Red Notice for the two individuals in question. On the face of the Red Notice it is clearly stated that it was circulated to the media including the internet.
iii. The Red Notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition in accordance with the national laws. This Red Notice stated: "Please apply provisional arrest in conformity with National Laws and applicable bi-lateral and multi-lateral treaties."
iiii. On 22 July, 2014, the Interpol Office in Washington DC advised the authorities in St. Kitts that the individuals in question were traveling to St. Kitts and gave details of travel times and flight numbers showing that the individuals were to arrive into St. Kitts on British Airways Flight 2157 at 15.40 via Antigua. The authorities were asked to take action.
v. My fellow citizens and residents it is significant to note that at all material times the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security then, was Dr Denzil Douglas.
vi. Dr. Denzil Douglas, was fully informed by the St. Kitts and Nevis Police of the Interpol Red Notice and that these individuals were to arrive into St. Kitts on British Airways , but absolutely no action was taken.
vii. No effort was made to deny these individuals permission to land in St. Kitts and Nevis. No effort was made to initiate any proceedings against or in relation to these individuals. No steps whatsoever were taken in relation to the Interpol Red Notice.
viii. Since 2014 therefore the family has resided in St. Kitts and Nevis undisturbed.
ix. Just a few weeks ago, this matter was brought up for the first time to my Government by one of our OECS neighbours which has diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. Information was informally provided to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis in relation to the extradition of the individuals to China.
x. We intend always to act responsibly as a member of the international community. St. Kitts and Nevis is a Nation of laws. As a Government we adhere to and respect at all times the Rule of Law.
xi. Requests for legal assistance are governed by the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. This Act outlines the procedure for co-operation in criminal matters between St. Kitts and Nevis and Commonwealth countries. China is not a Commonwealth country. Assistance can only be provided to a country that is not a member of the Commonwealth if that country has concluded a specific agreement to this effect with St. Kitts and Nevis. There is no such agreement between St. Kitts and Nevis and China. Therefore the extradition assistance that was being informally sought cannot be provided within the confines of St. Kitts Nevis law.
xii. I am advised by our legal team that they have examined all relevant laws, international conventions and bilateral treaties applicable to St Kitts and Nevis and the clear legal position is that there is no basis for extraditing St Kitts and Nevis citizens in this way.
xiii. Our country is no stranger to extradition requests. We well remember the judicial processes that attended the extradition requests of Charles "Little Nut" Miller and Noel "Zambo" Heath to name but two. Despite the serious allegations of criminality against these two citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Denzil Douglas led Government of the day afforded those gentlemen due process as guaranteed to them under the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis.
xiiii. We cannot and will not simply allow our sovereignty and our laws to be trampled upon by permitting any Nation to attempt to engage in forced rendition of any citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis from our shores. Each and every citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis is entitled to the full protection of the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis. They are entitled to that protection not some of the time or at the whim of any Government. They are entitled to that protection all of the time.
xv. It is worthy of note that we are also aware through news reports that the government of the People's Republic of China has made allegations against several Chinese citizens now resident in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. I am certain that those countries will insist that their national laws are respected in rendering any assistance to the Chinese authorities. This then is not unique to St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a feature of all mature democracies rooted in the Rule of Law.
Notwithstanding the above facts, I wish to report to the Nation that this matter is under active investigation by this government. As a responsible member of the international community, St. Kitts and Nevis will never become a safe haven for criminals. I have stated repeatedly as Prime Minister that our Citizenship by Investment programme is the platinum standard of the global industry. We cannot and will not allow it to be abused by those bent on criminality. The dark days of this programme under the Denzil Douglas led regime are over.
Your government has therefore instructed the relevant law enforcement and investigative agencies to investigate the claims against these individuals so that we can determine if there is a legal basis to strip them of the privilege of having the citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis and the great honour of being holders of our country's passport. As this investigation unfolds active steps have already been taken by our law enforcement authorities within the bounds of St. Kitts and Nevis law.
We have heard and seen much of the baseless propaganda now being peddled locally, regionally and internationally by the discredited Denzil Douglas and his Opposition Party. This Government which I lead is not concerned with the noise. We well know who granted these individuals their citizenship and who ignored the Interpol Red Notice sent to them directly. We well know who removed the place of birth field from our passport leading to the dreaded FinCen Advisory and the cruel imposition on our people of visa requirements to enter Canada. We well know that news reports claimed that Alizheera Moghadam paid US$1 million for a diplomatic passport. We well know that Arthur Porter, Canadian fugitive and close friend of Denzil Douglas was granted St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship. Dr Denzil Douglas had the full confidence of Arthur Porter that he appointed him to be our Honorary Consul to the Bahamas.
This fellow citizens and residents is the sordid legacy of Denzil Douglas that continues to plague our beloved country. It is a stain on our country's reputation which we should never forget. We must not now or ever allow those who have so tarnished our country's good name to now pontificate in this way and lecture my Government which has so assiduously taken steps to restore the good name and hard won reputation of this land of St. Kitts and Nevis which we cherish and love so much.
On 16 February, 2015, our people voted for a Government of National Unity and your Government took immediate steps to turn around the Citizenship by Investment programme.
a. Met with international partners
b. Hired the international due diligence firm IPSA to do an intensive review and a look back at thousands of Citizenship applications previously granted. Some have been found to be problematic and corrective action was taken. We have comprehensively implemented the reforms suggested by IPSA.
c. Hired new, additional due diligence firms of high international repute
d. Increased partnerships with friendly governments such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union.
e. Commanded high praise from the IMF; CDB; ECCB; and other International Partners. We believe that we have one of the best programmes in the world today which remains the Rolls Royce of the global industry.
My beloved citizens, St. Kitts and Nevis guarantees to every citizen the protection afforded by law. We do so because we are a Nation of laws and because we respect and hold sacrosanct the Rule of Law. However, St. Kitts and Nevis also recognizes that it is a responsible member of the international community and will not allow itself to be seen as a safe haven for criminals. All nations of the world can be assured of our fullest cooperation in the global fight against crime and criminality. But we must do so within the parameters of our national laws. Our legal processes have been engaged fully in relation to this matter and my Government shall continue to update you as further information comes to light.
Your government is aware of the sacred trust that you the people have placed in us to manage and direct the affairs of our country. It is a trust that I shall never betray. I will not join others in destroying the reputation and good name of St Kitts and Nevis so painstakingly restored by my government. I will not be sidetracked by the constant torrent of negativity. This Team Unity government will continue to focus with laser like precision on building our country where peace progress and prosperity are guaranteed to all.
We are optimistic about the future. The good Lord has been good to us. He has been leading us forward in light and hope.
May God continue to protect my beloved people and Country. God bless you all.