By Erasmus Williams
Washington, DC, – The 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report has concluded that Nevis is a desirable location for criminals to conceal proceeds and that the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government Citizenship Processing Unit “does not maintain adequate autonomy from politicians to prevent political interference in its decisions.”
The Report released Tuesday by the United States Department of States said St. Kitts and Nevis is susceptible to corruption and money laundering because of the volume of narcotics trafficking around the islands.
“The growth of its offshore banking sector coupled with unusually strong bank secrecy laws also remains problematic,” said the Report, which specifically pointed out that “financial oversight in Nevis remains problematic due to the (Federal Government of) St. Kitts and Nevis allowing the creation of anonymous accounts, strong bank secrecy laws, and overall lack of transparency of beneficial ownership of legal entities.”
“Nevis is a desirable location for criminals to conceal proceeds because of the ambiguous regulatory framework regarding customer due diligence makes Nevis a desirable location for criminals to conceal proceeds,” said the Report.
It further stated that bearer shares are authorized if the bearer share certificates are retained in the protected custody of persons or financial institutions authorized by the Minister of Finance.
“Specific identifying information must be maintained on bearer certificates, including the name and address of the bearer and the certificate’s beneficial owner,” it said.
In pointed out that an individual is eligible for economic citizenship with a US$400,000 minimum investment in real estate, a contribution ranging from US$250,000 to US$356,000 (based on an application for two adults and two dependents) to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or a contribution of US$150,000 to a newly created Hurricane Relief Fund. Real estate applicants must pay additional government fees of US$50,000 and up, depending on family size.
“Applicants must make a source of funds declaration and provide supporting evidence. The government established a Citizenship Processing Unit (CPU) to manage the screening and application process. The CPU does not maintain adequate autonomy from politicians to prevent political interference in its decisions,” said the Report.