Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Antigua clarifies position on citizenship programme

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister of Antigua, Gaston Browne

The Antigua and Barbuda government says advertisements placed by a United Arab Emirates-based company, called Sweet Homes, may have created a false impression that citizenship could be attained by purchasing a house it placed on the market.

The Gaston Browne administration dispatched an official statement to Sweet Homes, as well as international partners, including the United States (US), Canada and the United Kingdom (UK), regarding the requirements of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), which is open to foreigners who make substantial investments in the island.

"The Government of Antigua & Barbuda has a fully transparent, non-exclusive policy of licensing property developers with at least 1,000 condominiums to serve as suppliers for our National Development Fund (NDF) though our Citizenship by Investment Programme," said the Browne administration.

"These suppliers are paid a commission of 10 per cent of the US$200,000 that is collected from each successful applicant."

The statement said that many countries have given exclusive rights to certain individuals and firms to promote their NDF programmes, but this is not so in Antigua.

"The government holds to the position that exclusivity could give rise to corrupt engagements. Therefore, Cabinet, which is responsible for the administration of the programme, has decided not to enter into any exclusive arrangements," it said.

"The Antigua and Barbuda CIP is administered by the Cabinet and not by a single minister as a safeguard against any possibility of corruption. All expenditures from the fund must be approved by the Cabinet as a whole. This provision is enshrined in law. "

The statement said that each applicant for citizenship is subject to a rigorous due diligence process, involving internationally reputable agencies in the US, UK and Canada, to ensure that only persons of the highest standard of integrity are accorded citizenship and that such persons pose no threat to the security of all other countries to which citizens of Antigua and Barbuda travel.

"In the specific case of Sweet Homes, it cannot process applications. It has to refer all applications to a local processor, who is required to be an Antiguan citizen by law. In turn, the application is scrutinised by the CIP in the manner described above," it read.

Sweet Homes' real estate customers in Ajman do not qualify for citizenship, the government affirmed, partly in answer to concerns of the company's competitors that its advertisements create that impression.

The Antiguan government has now decided to scrutinise advertising for Sweet Homes and similar projects to ensure that investors are not misinformed.

- CMC