St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst, said it was discovered that the woman got citizenship under CIP had lied on the application when asked if she had ever been denied a United States visa.
He said the island cannot always wait for the United States to respond or for “a perfect coordination of all information at the same time”.
But Hurst defended the government’s decision to approve the passport and accept the investment funds, which were not disclosed, but which under the CIP Act cannot be less than US $250,000.
“Those who work in the system know exactly how it is done. Antigua & Barbuda is exercising great wisdom in how it is done. Our critics would not see it that way no matter what we say but one in 500 and something passports is not an indication that something is wrong,” Hurst said, adding that as a result of Chinese investor forfeited the funds.
Under the CIP programme investors are granted citizenship on making substantial contributions to the island’s development in several areas. Antigua and Barbuda is one of several Caribbean countries engaged in CIPs as a means of attracting investors.
However, UPP leader Harold Lovell warned that the CIP faces the possibility of collapsing if the vetting process is not improved.
“I would have thought that something like the issuance of a US Visa and whether the person would have been denied is something I believe, government-to-government, would be verifiable,” Lovell said.
“If it is that they asked the US government for the information, and from what I have been made to understand they did not await the results from the US government but went and issued the passport. I think this would violate the very first principle to ensure you have done your due diligence,” he added.