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Richard Duncan: G’da will not be adversely affected this year from not selling CBI passports to Russia and Belarus

Richard Duncan – an important figure in the local CBI office

Grenada’s earnings from the sale of passports under its Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme will not be affected this year in the face of pressure from the United States not to do business with Russia and Belarus, according to head of the local CBI office, Richard Duncan.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Monday night, Duncan said that based on a recent accord signed between Eastern Caribbean leaders selling passports and Washington, Grenada will not be accepting any new applications for passports from citizens of these two countries in Eastern Europe after the end of March deadline.

“There will be no impact for 2023 and that’s for sure,” he said.

According to Duncan, the hope is that by 2024 the Dickon Mitchell-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government will seek “to develop other markets” to bring in revenue for the Treasury.

The U.S government has been bringing pressure to bear on some countries to stop doing business with Russia and its ally Belarus over Moscow’s decision to send troops into The Ukraine to try and topple its government.

Duncan was specifically asked which markets Grenada was planning to tackle in light of the ban on selling passports to Russians and Belarusians.

He said: “There are billionaires all over the world, in fact every day new billionaires are being made… and for them second passports or citizenship is something that they aspire towards. So whether it is India, China, Nigeria, South Africa, the U.S … the market is a global market, it’s a million dollar market.”

The local CBI czar told THE NEW TODAY that there was no noticeable rush by citizens of these two Eastern European countries to purchase Grenadian passports in order to beat the March 31 deadline.

“Based on the documentation that they (CBI applicants) have to provide, it can’t be rushed. There is a whole process – if you are interested in becoming a citizen, you have to touch base with a Marketing Agent out there, you have to provide them a plethora of documentation before the application could even reach the CBI office.”

“Oftentimes, it takes weeks to compile that information. Whatever they (CBI agents) probably have in train, they might accelerate it.”

“We want to make sure that the discontinuation of new applications is done in a way where there is no slip-shot work and half-baked stuff coming into the CBI and it starts to give you a whole set of headaches and you have to avoid that.”

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the release issued by OECS leaders and the United States on the way forward for the controversial passports selling schemes that brings in the bulk of their revenue:-

On 25 February 2023 a historic US-Caribbean Roundtable on Citizenship by Investment was held in Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis.

The highly productive and mutually beneficial engagement involved delegations of the five Eastern Caribbean states with Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes led by their Prime Ministers and a delegation of the Government of the United States led by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury.

Both parties engaged in a frank discussion on the threats and challenges faced by these programmes and the important contribution that they have made to national development in these small states.

The US recognised that the CBI Programmes provide a legitimate service and have assisted in the survival of the participating economies by providing revenues, particularly considering the existential threat to our vulnerable small island states – emanating from the climate emergency – and the onslaught of recent adverse external shocks, including the ongoing war in Ukraine.

CBI revenues are invaluable for funding major infrastructural and development projects, and for building resilience.

It was accepted that dismantling these Programmes would severely compromise the prosperity and prospects of the countries, triggering a plethora of negative social consequences domestically and potentially leading to an upsurge in criminality, among other pathologies.

The five Governments collectively committed to six CBI principles proposed by the US, several of which had previously been proactively adopted by the OECS states of their own volition as part of their risk management framework to strengthen and safeguard the integrity of their CBI Programmes.

The six principles agreed to are the following:

(1). Collective agreement on treatment of denials: Not to process applications from persons whose applications have been denied in another CBI jurisdiction, by proactively sharing information on denials.

(2). Interviews: Conduct interviews with applicants, whether virtual or in-person.

(3). Additional checks: Each jurisdiction will run checks on each application with the Financial Intelligence Unit of its respective country.

(4). Audits: Audit the Programme annually or every two years in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

(5). Retrieval of passports: Request law enforcement assistance to retrieve revoked/recalled passports.

(6). Treatment of Russians and Belarusians: Suspend processing applications from Russians and Belarusians. Four jurisdictions have already suspended applications and Grenada, which processes applications from Russians and Belarusians with enhanced due diligence, will suspend processing new applications from Russia and Belarus from March 31, 2023.

It was recognised and accepted that the implementation of this measure has and will continue to have significant adverse revenue impact for the CBI states.

Both Parties also agreed to convene a technical discussion within the next four to six months to assess the status of implementation of the agreed six principles.

Additionally, at this next engagement, the OECS States requested further discussion on the US Government’s risk management framework for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program as it relates to the processing of applications from Russians.

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