UWP Urges Immediate Government Action On CIP Issues – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

The United Workers Party is deeply concerned about the recent lawsuit filed by MSR Media in the United States against past and present senior members of the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis and involving senior officials of the Government of Saint Lucia.

The case makes damning allegations surrounding the business practices of Caribbean Galaxy Real Estate, a Citizenship by Investment approved developer carrying on business in both islands.

The allegations include unlawful payments to Government officials and selling of passports below the minimum price as stipulated by law in both Saint Kitts and Saint Lucia.

Alarmingly, McClaude Emmanuel, the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) of Saint Lucia, has been named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, and Ernest Hilaire Saint Lucia’s Minister responsible for the CIP has been named as a co-conspirator in the racketeering lawsuit.

This means that the integrity and reputation of our CIP programme and our Government as a whole are now facing the scrutiny of several international compliance authorities and foreign Governments with deeply troubling implications for us all.

The allegations made will inevitably cause an erosion of trust and confidence in the operation and management of our CIP Programme at a time when such programmes are already in the crosshairs of the international community.

This Government is gambling with our visa access privileges, and a very real threat exists of restrictions being imposed on our ability to travel freely and raises concerns about the integrity of our Banking System.

In light of the revelations stated in the MSR Media lawsuit, the recent arrests by both the United Kingdom and the United States of three individuals who obtained Kittitian passports during the period under review, and the lack of transparency and accountability by the Government of Saint Lucia, the UWP is calling for immediate action to protect Saint Lucia’s name and reputation and that of its CIP programme. We believe the following must be done with immediate effect:

Suspension of the Infrastructure Option: announced Infrastructure Option must be suspended until there is both an independent investigation and full transparency by the Government regarding how the Option is to work. There is evidence that this Option is already being sold below the statutory price in contravention of the law.
Sending the CEO of the CIP on leave: McClaude Emmanuel, the current CEO of the CIP, should be sent on leave pending the outcome of the investigation to ensure an impartial and thorough review of the allegations.
Transfer of the CIP Portfolio: The CIP portfolio should be transferred to another Minister while the investigation into the programme is ongoing to maintain the integrity of the investigation.
Review of citizenships: All citizenships granted under the real estate option should be reviewed to ensure that there were no approvals granted to persons who did not pay the minimum investment sum as required by law.
Signing of Memorandum of Agreement: The Government must immediately sign the Memorandum of Agreement that provides for common standards and regulations between OECS territories for their Citizen by Investment Programmes.

The UWP urges the Government to take swift and decisive action to address these serious issues as a sullied CIP programme jeopardizes the reputation of our country as a whole.

It is absolutely critical that our programme meets international standards in order to allay concerns about citizenships being granted to questionable characters and Government officials using the programme to enrich themselves.

When our Government engages in behavior that does not safeguard our integrity and puts their own self interest above that of their citizens, it is the duty of us all to demand that they do better. We call on all Civil Society groups to join us in this call for swift and decisive action because the risks we face are real and imminent.

SOURCE: From the desk of the PRO – United Workers Party