I was shocked and horrified to read in your online newspaper about the fact that the US government again forcefully keeps dictating to the Eastern Caribbean States as to how they can and cannot earn an income.
This latest dictate is related to the citizenship by investment program that I honestly am very much involved in and concerned with.
To begin a little about myself, I was born in the US and grew up in Canada but then lived for nearly 25 years in Moscow Russia.
However, for the last ten years, I have been living and raising my family in Antigua. As my company is one of the major CIP companies internationally, I travel around the Caribbean constantly and have learned much of the history of this part of the world.
I want to be clear that most of my clients were from Russia so the refusal to accept Russians has obviously affected my business in a profound way. But my business is not the issue at hand, I am actually near retirement anyway, the issue at hand is the never-ending pressure put on the Caribbean by the US to stop earning monies other than through tourism.
It is public knowledge that the leaders of the OECS CIP countries met with US government officials last weekend in St Kitts.
The officials were mostly relatively low-level officials from the office of terrorist financing and financial crimes division of the treasury, as well as some people in charge of sanctions and a couple from the state department. When I saw who attended this meeting my reaction was simply shocking.
I cannot for the life of me understand what US terrorist financing or money laundering officials have to discuss with the Prime Ministers of the CIP countries.
The fact is that since the existence of the CIP in the Caribbean, there has never been even one terrorist event that involved a holder of a CIP passport, at least not one that is publicly known about. I have said it many times before, the due diligence done by the CIP countries is the best DD is known to man, and arguably better than that done by the US and other big countries in relation to their investor immigrant programs.
Instead of looking at the Caribbean, the US really should be looking closer at the fraud-ridden visa programs at home in the US. The fact is that the US has approved visas for 19 terrorists who sadly took down the twin towers on 9/11. According to the Cato Institute, there were 192 foreign-born terrorists who planned, attempted or carried out attacks on U.S. soil from 1975 through 2017.
As such the absurdity of the US inviting terrorism specialist officials to a meeting to lecture leaders about defending from terrorism in the Caribbean is astounding as if terrorists would submit themselves to a rigid Due Diligence and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars just to be able to travel a bit.
Inviting officials specializing in money laundering was also quite interesting. The fact is that the US investor immigrant program or the EB5 program is riddled with financial fraud. Numerous and very public cases of investors being scammed out of millions or rather hundreds of millions of dollars happen on almost a daily basis. The Jay Peak ski resort is but just one excellent example of this, where the program “misappropriated” over many years, more than USD 200 Million of foreign investor money and for which NOT ONE PERSON was held criminally responsible!
Additionally, there are numerous public cases of fraud committed by no less than employees of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A case in point is the case of a Nigerian man who entered the US on false documents and was subsequently amazingly hired to work inside the USCIS.
The fact that the US is looking at the Caribbean with such suspicious eyes when the record of the CIP on financial fraud if examined correctly, is leaps and bounds way better than the US investor immigration program itself, defies belief!
It is also interesting that the US officials came to the Caribbean and not to Romania for example. A quick search on the internet will show that Romanian passports are up for sale for just a few thousand dollars and without any type of due diligence. It is common knowledge that Romania for years has been issuing passports to people who pretend to have Romanian heritage. Somehow the US does not mind this type of fraud happening in the center of Europe.
Finally, is the issue of awarding citizenship to Russians.
As soon as the military conflict began in Ukraine some officials in the US decided that if a bunch of Russians were not allowed to receive citizenship in the Caribbean then somehow that will make the conflict end faster in Ukraine. Of course, they do not consider the same to be true if the same Russians invest in the US through the EB5 program and immigrate to the US which is why the US will continue to happily accept Russian investors.
I guess the Americans think that the Russians applying for citizenship in the Caribbean are all multi-billionaire Oligarchs who have a direct line to influence the Kremlin. This situation cannot be further from the truth.
The truth is that a vast majority of the applicants are what is called the mass affluent. Yes, they are rich, but they are nowhere near rich enough to have an influence on the leadership of a country of 140 Million people. In the US there are about 22 Million Millionaires, obviously, those people have a negligent influence on the political process in the US, other than the ability to vote.
Blocking Russians from attaining citizenship in the Caribbean is both a form of control over the Caribbean and a show of what has become a paranoid racist chase in an attempt to block every single Russian person from living a normal life. To be clear amongst our clients in the past were some absolutely wonderful people like an award-winning children’s cartoonist, a publisher of school books, a furniture maker, and the list goes on and on, of wonderful people who because of an accident of birth are no longer allowed to receive citizenship of the Caribbean
The situation has become so absurd that if my son, for example, who was born to a Canadian parent and an American Parent, but in Russia, would now not be allowed to apply for a Caribbean citizenship. To be clear my son is not a Russian citizen, never has been, luckily already is a Caribbean citizen and a Canadian citizen and he has lived his whole conscious life in Antigua, but now under today’s rules he would be excluded, based on what is anti-Russian sentiments or really Russophobia. How absurd!!!
To conclude, the idea of the US coming down to the Caribbean again to dictate how the Caribbean should be earning income is simply “ déjà vu all over again”. The question really is, when will it ever stop?