Economic Citizenship Programs Citizenship Thu, 15 Dec 2016 11:01:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 IMF predicts economic growth for Antigua and Barbuda Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:19:42 +0000 The Antigua and Barbuda economy is expected to grow by three per cent this year underpinned by the continued recovery in the tourism sector and investments in new and tourist facilities, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
An IMF delegation, headed by Meredith Arnold McIntyre, has ended a two week visit to the country and said that growth last year was 3. 7 per cent.
He said the growth this year reflects mainly the still tight financing conditions for the public and private sector.
Inflation declined to around zero in the first half of 2016, mostly due to fuel price adjustment and continued softness in global commodity prices, and is projected to remain at low levels for the rest of this year and into 2017.
“The fiscal balance is expected to improve on the back of a one-off revenue windfall from forfeiture funds in 2016, totalling 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). However, the repeal of the personal income tax in the second half of 2016 has weakened structural revenue sources, and will only be partially offset by the unincorporated business tax and taxes on offshore banks’ profits.”
The IMF official said that this was coupled by higher-than-projected spending on goods and services, transfers to state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and the Work Experience Programme
The IMF official said that this was coupled by higher-than-projected spending on goods and services, transfers to state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and the Work Experience Programme
It said the underlying primary deficit, excluding Citizenship-by-Investment (CIP) revenues and one-off items, is expected to reach 2.3 per cent of GDP, compared to a 1.1 per cent surplus in 2015.
“Tight financing conditions have triggered a significant drawdown on deposits as well as continued arrears accumulation, with negative spillovers to public and private sector balance sheets,” the IMF said, notwithstanding, public debt is projected to decline to 92 per cent of GDP by end-2016, down from 99 per cent of GDP in 2015, largely due to repayments of multilateral and some bilateral debt financed by CIP revenues and the drawdown of deposits.
McIntyre said stronger revenue mobilization efforts, together with tighter expenditure control, are still necessary to put central government finances on a sustainable path.
“In particular, pervasive tax exemptions at customs need to be streamlined, while transfers to SOEs need to be capped. A comprehensive strategy to strengthen the balance sheets of SOEs and increase their revenue from user fees is also critical to improving the solvency of the broader public sector and reducing large contingent liability risks to central government,” he added.
McIntyre said that the CIP inflows have slowed down in 2016, as a result of increased global competition and more stringent due diligence requirements.
“Against this background, the mission reiterated the need to boost sustainable structural revenue sources and curtail the use of CIP resources to fund recurrent expenditures. Instead, a prudent CIP management framework should prioritize the use of CIP revenues for debt repayment and arrears clearance as well as for building fiscal buffers for future shocks, including natural disasters. “
He said the resolution of ABI Bank has significantly improved the capital and liquidity position of the banking sector. However, lending activity remains subdued, mostly due to weak credit demand and banks’ high risk aversion.
“In order to support credit growth and a further decline in non-performing loans, the mission recommended enhancing the foreclosure legislation, reducing government arrears to the corporate sector and pressing ahead with the operationalization of the Eastern Caribbean Asset Management Company.”
The IMF delegation also urged the Antigua and Barbuda authorities to coordinate with the Esatern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) on a comprehensive restructuring plan for Caribbean Union Bank. “Although there has been little evidence of withdrawal of correspondent bank relationships (CBRs) by international banks thus far, correspondent banking fees have risen by up to 200 percent, driven by the pass-through of increased compliance costs. Continued close monitoring of existing CBRs and fees thus remains warranted, as well as efforts to further strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering /Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.

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Laveco Presentation Bolivar House – Hungarian Companies and Banks Thu, 17 Nov 2016 07:37:17 +0000 ]]> 0 Laveco Presentation Hilton Nicosia – Hungarian Companies and Banks Tue, 25 Oct 2016 23:26:37 +0000 ]]> 0 New Financial Criteria for granting Cypriot citizenship by investment Tue, 04 Oct 2016 14:09:18 +0000 On September 13th, 2016, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus launched an important update to the financial criteria for investors wishing to obtain Cypriot citizenship. The good news is that the criteria are far more favorable than before, as the amount of investment required has been reduced from €2 500 000 to €2 000 000.

In accordance with the revised procedure, there are several investment options, thus providing investors with greater choice.

Although the new criteria will have immediate effect, existing applicants will still have the opportunity to withdraw their applications and submit new ones based on the new criteria.

By October 31st, 2016, potential applicants will have the opportunity to choose which of the two schemes they would like to apply for, and as from November 1st only the new criteria will be valid in applications for Citizenship in Cyprus.

New Financial Criteria for granting Cypriot citizenship by investment:

Investment in Real estate and land developing projects:

Applicant has to invest at least €2 000 000 to purchase or build residential or commercial immovable property, that can be associated with the tourism sector or other infrastructure.

It should be noted that investment in land under development is included in this criterion, provided that an investment plan for the development of the purchased land will be included in the application. However, land acquisition situated in a building zone of zero development is not considered a qualifying investment under this condition.

Purchasing, Registration or Participation in Cyprus enterprises and companies.

The applicant must invest at least €2 000 000 to either purchase, register or participate in businesses or companies established and operating on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.

Additionally, these businesses or companies should have a visible physical presence in Cyprus, with significant activity and employ at least five Cypriot or EU citizens who have legally resided in Cyprus for a continuous period of at least 5 years.

Investing in alternative investment funds (AIF’s) or financial assets or organizations in Cyprus, licensed by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission “CYSEC”

Investing at least €2 000 000 in Alternative Investment Funds (AIF’s) established, licensed and controlled by CYSEC. Such investments must meet the criteria of the investment scheme and must also be approved by the Minister of Finance.

The applicant must have purchased financial assets of at least € 2.000.000, such as bonds, debentures or other securities, registered and issued in the Republic of Cyprus in companies or organizations regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission “CYSEC”, with substantial economic activity and physical presence in Cyprus.

Combination of the above mentioned investment criteria:

  • The applicant may choose to combine any of the above criteria, provided that the total amount of the investment is at least €2 000 000.
  • Under this criterion, the applicant may also invest in government bonds of the Republic of Cyprus for an amount up to €500 000.

Other Terms and Conditions:

  • The applicant must have a clean criminal record.
  • The applicant should acquire a permanent residence in Cyprus with a value of at least €500 000 + VAT (This condition does not apply if the investment is in residential property)
  • The applicant must be the holder of a residence permit in Cyprus before naturalization as a Cypriot citizen. If the investor is not already a permanent resident in Cyprus, an application for a residence permit should be submitted to the authorities simultaneously with the filing of the application for citizenship.

* More details about the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Scheme will be provided in the next edition of our newsletter.

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Number of Citizens-By-Investment growing in the Caribbean Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:16:06 +0000 The number of high net worth individuals in the Caribbean is reported to be increasing, based partly on the availability of programmes that incentivize real estate investment, offering residency permits and citizenship in the Caribbean, reports the Broad Street Journal.

That’s according to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Caribbean newsletter, written and edited by RBC Group Economist Marla Dukharan.

Citing an IMF working paper, she notes that St. Kitts & Nevis launched the first Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) nearly 30 years ago, and offered immediate citizenship to immigrant investors. The programme, she says, has transformed the island’s economy in recent years, and as a result, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, and Grenada have since launched their own CBI programmes.

The schemes, with some variations, revolve around the granting of citizenship and a passport for an investment of around US$400,000 in property, government bonds, or by way of a donation, plus fees, says Dukharan. It is estimated that Antigua & Barbuda as well as St Kitts & Nevis passports provide visa-free travel to 132 countries and territories including all 26 European countries in the Schengen zone. Meanwhile, Dominica and Grenada passports provide visa-free travel to 111 countries and territories including those in the Schengen zone.

But who wants to buy Caribbean citizenship, asks Dukharan. Well, she notes, according to Fortune Magazine, applicants include wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs seeking to flee from concerns about their Government’s anti-corruption drive, or seeking to provide an international education for their children. In addition, wealthy Russians also commonly cite the desire to avoid the growing suppression of dissent, the expropriation of businesses, and high organised crime in their country.

Also, a growing number of Arab citizens, unsettled by instability and US embargos or sanctions, and a significant number of US entrepreneurs seeking to escape the US’ ever widening tax net, have also been applying.

The economist points out that if the UK pursues an exit from the EU in keeping with the Brexit referendum results, there may be what she terms “implications” for travel and visa requirements for Citizenship-by-Investment passport holders, to the Schengen zone in particular.

In general, she notes, opponents to Caribbean passport programmes believe that nationality is not something that can be sold; and the granting of rights and freedoms to persons without any historic or cultural affinity with the country is deemed by some to be unacceptable.

And while the US, Canada and the UK all have economic citizenship programmes which can be a fast track to citizenship, it isn’t guaranteed, and in all cases requires residency, unlike Dominica and St. Kitts & Nevis.

Dukharan notes that the US and Canada have long questioned the adequacy of CBI passports being handed out in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union area, on the grounds of whether due diligence and background checks of applicants had been carried out. Canada even went so far as to impose visa restrictions on St. Kitts & Nevis passport holders in November 2014. Since then, the St. Kitts & Nevis CBI programme has been reformed, which the IMF recently commended.


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Antigua and Barbuda: Tourism and Business Incentives Act — passed for extension Thu, 14 Jul 2016 09:40:46 +0000 By means of Official GazetteNo.32 of 26 May 2016, the Tourism and Business Incentives Act, 2013, published in the Official Gazette No. 26 of 17 April 2014 was introduced in Parliament to extend its duration for another two years commencing 7 April 2016 until 16 April 2018.

The act provides for a wide range of incentives in the areas of the tourism industry and other business activities for companies investing over ECD100,000,000. The main tax incentives of the act provide total or partial exemption from the following taxes:

Property tax
Stamp duty
Income tax withholdings


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IMF praises St Kitts & Nevis’ comprehensive reform of CBI Programme Mon, 13 Jun 2016 08:15:55 +0000 The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a world renowned multilateral agency, has commended the Government of National Unity for its broad reforms and competent management of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) Programme, reports SKN Vibes.

In its May 13, 2016 Article IV Consultation report on the fiscal performance of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Inci Otker of the IMF, reported that “the authorities are to be commended for the comprehensive reform of the CBI Programme” and that “the improvements in the transparency of SIDF financial reporting are welcome.”

Since assuming political office in February of 2016, the Government of National Unity has set about to bring sweeping reforms to the CBI programme, a programme that had been brought into disrepute under the Dr. Douglas-led Administration’s management of it—So much so, that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued, on May 20, 2014, an advisory to alert Financial Institutions (FIs) that certain foreign nationals were abusing the Citizenship-by-Investment Programme sponsored by the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN) for illicit financial activity.   The advisory made it clear that the management of the CBI Programme under Dr. Douglas and his team had lax controls that made it attractive to bad financial actors who want to mask their identity and geographic background for the purposes of evading U.S. or international sanctions or to engage in other financial crime.

And if that were not unfortunate enough, the Canadian Government issued a notice on November 22, 2014, that citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis now require a visa to travel to Canada. The reason again reflecting the poor management of the CBI Programme under a Douglas-led Administration that never yielded to sound advice from its international partners where the programme was concerned.

The notice stated that Canada “has implemented the visa requirement on St. Kitts and Nevis due to concerns about the issuance of passports and identity management practices within its Citizenship by Investment Programme.”

“Canada is acting to protect the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of our immigration system. The visa requirement will ensure that Canada will be able to properly determine the true identity of St. Kitts and Nevis passport holders and to deny

entry to those who would otherwise be inadmissible to Canada. Canada continues to welcome genuine visitors from St. Kitts and Nevis and has a number of programmes, including a multiple-entry visa, to make it easy for such legitimate visitors to travel to Canada,” the notice further stated.

In November 2013, a scandal erupted after Iranian citizen Alizera Moghadam, turned up at the Canadian border carrying a St. Kitts-Nevis diplomatic passport, which he said he paid for, saying he was there to see to see the Canadian prime minister. Former Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas, downplayed the issue and staunchly defended Mr. Moghadam’s character, although the Canadian authorities raised eyebrows.

Another issue that was of great concern to the US, Canada, United Kingdom and other countries was the removal of the place of birth from the barometric passports issued by the island in 2012. Dr. Douglas said the date of birth was removed upon advice to his then Government but the US said that this was an anomaly in keeping with international practice and had created unnecessary work of verifying the true nationality of persons.

The Government of National Unity’s reform of the CBI Programme has not only been commended by the IMF but by Canada, the European Union (EU), the US and other countries.

“We recognized that mistakes had been made by the former regime,” said Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris. “The programme had been abused to a point that was willful, almost dishonest. The people voted for a change.”

Prime Minister Harris indicated that this abuse had resulted in strained relationships with Canada and the United States. Explaining that the changes to the programme were not a simple cosmetic fix, he outlined the recent changes made to the programme by his Government:

The first change was to the Citizen by Investment Unit. “We have bolstered the management of the Citizenship-Investment-Unit. We have added staff, given everybody training courses, and initiated organizational changes that allow for a more client-focused team.”

The second change saw the introduction of a new citizen case management system. This system, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, will allow for faster processing of applications. According to Prime Minister Harris, ‘This system allows 24-hour access for the input of applications, as well as tracking of applications as they work through the system.”

The third change was the adjustment of workflows geared at enabling faster response times in application processing. “We are no longer processing applications in a linear fashion,” said Prime Minister Harris, who later revealed that “due Diligence reports are received and files are reviewed immediately thereafter rather than being held until old files are cleared.”

The fourth change according to Prime Minister Harris was the commissioning of a Technical Committee, in accordance with a 2015 amendment to the law. He explained that “this institutes a more formal and documented process over the denial of applications.”

The fifth and final change announced by Prime Minister Harris was aimed towards assisting in the protection of the applicant’s investments in real estate transactions. “We have improved the acknowledgement phase of the processing cycle. Files are now being acknowledged on an average of five days after receipt, well within the 10 day window, and much improved from earlier this year and last year. Finally, we have tabled changes to the law regarding escrow accounts.”

Prime Minister Harris is confident that these changes will assist in launching the programme into a progressive and prosperous future.

Additionally, the Government of National Unity has promised to provide a full account of the financial management of the SIDF in its policy of transparency, accountability and good governance to the electorate. Since taking office in February 2015, Prime Minister Harris, disclosed in the National Assembly that “as of the 31st of December, 2015, there were 10, 777 primary passports issued under the CBI programme.”

In what he described as “an onerous task” in obtaining the information of the issuance of passports under the programme before 2005, Prime Minister Harris reported that in 2005, 6 passports were issued; in 2006, there were 19 issued; 2007 saw the issuance of 75, while in 2008 there were 202 passports; in 2009, there were 292 passports issued; in 2010, 664 were issued; in 2011, there were 1092; 1758 passports were issued in 2012; 2044 in 2013; in 2014, there were 2329; and 2015, 2296.

Figures with respect to how many persons have become economic citizens under the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme had been veiled in secrecy under the Dr. Douglas-led regime for over 20 years, despite requests by the media and people for that information.


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Saint Kitts And Nevis Praised By IMF Wed, 01 Jun 2016 14:09:51 +0000

The International Monetary Fund has praised Caribbean territory Saint Kitts and Nevis for its progress on fiscal and economic matters.

First, the IMF welcomed Saint Kitts and Nevis’s comprehensive reform of its Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) program. This program had been criticized by countries including the United States, which said it is “attractive to illicit actors because the program, as administered, maintains lax controls as to who may be granted citizenship… As a result of these lax controls, illicit actors, including individuals intending to use the secondary citizenship to evade sanctions, can obtain an SKN passport with relative ease.”

The IMF emphasized the importance of safeguarding fiscal sustainability and recommended the implementation of a prudent framework to help the territory build fiscal buffers. To this end, the IMF recommended that the territory further broaden the tax base, to build on the earlier introduction of a value-added tax regime, and streamline tax incentives. It also said tax administration could be improved, to boost compliance rates.

The IMF recognized that a reduction in correspondent banking relationships continues to be an issue for Saint Kitts and Nevis. To limit the risk of losing correspondent banking relationships, the IMF said that the territory needs to maintain “watertight” laws to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and to fully comply with international standards on transparency and the exchange of tax information.


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Cyprus Citizenship Thu, 05 May 2016 11:39:24 +0000

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Short Video about Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Fri, 11 Mar 2016 14:13:55 +0000

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