St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): At his press conference Wednesday (May 10), Prime Minister Timothy Harris was asked what safeguards are there to guard against tainted money being used to access citizenship from St Kitts and Nevis.
The question was asked against the backdrop of China’s claim that Ren Biao used some of his alleged criminal gains to obtain St Kitts and Nevis citizenship.
The Prime Minister told reporters that the overhauled CBI features several layers of due diligence.
“Somebody who has matters before the court, somebody who has families in countries that are prohibited or considered pariahs in the world, those persons would be flagged and our risk based assessment would ensure that by and large unless they can surpass the relevant requirements that would flow through that those persons would not make the grade in terms of being able to access our citizenship.”
According to Prime Minister Harris, applications are only approved after thorough due diligence show that those applying for citizenship are bona fide individuals.
“So by going from one level to superior level and progressively to increase the checks, we are subjecting every applicant to almost four to five different layers of intelligence and support and when we get that again, the risk based system that we used that would allow us then to make a judgement whether to approve or deny, and then we have built in our system that at regular intervals, we will do a look back to see what has happened then and then take the requisite action.”
Asked whether a rigid security and due diligence process could eat into potential profits of the CBI programme, Dr Harris said his administration favoured proper vetting of applicants over getting funds that could end up being tainted.
St Kitts will not be a haven for criminals, Prime Minister Harris declared.
“Regarding the choice between profitability and the balance between profitability and security, in my view security must always triumph. We will not let ill gotten gains be the determinant in terms of our policy prescription. I want to make the point that St Kitts and Nevis will never be under Team Unity a haven for criminals, we do not want them in our programme. We wish they were not part of our citizenry, the reality is that when they become citizens we have to deal with that reality and they form the pool of citizens, some who are well minded and some who are not so well committed to the patriotic good. So security will trump always under Team Unity how we do the evaluation and the love or the lure of money will not be the deciding factor.”
In relation to Chinese national Ren Biao, the government says if evidence supports the need to revoke his St Kitts and Nevis citizenship, this will be done.