(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – Renewed calls have come from spokesman for the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Damani Tabor, for the pause and overhaul of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
His calls are as a result of the latest CIP scandal involving Indian national Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in his country for alleged fraud.
According to Tabor, this scandal will place the island in a bad light internationally, and further damage the country’s “tainted” reputation.
“We [UPP] want the CIP to be halted and we want a forensic audit. We also want a parliamentary select committee to be provided with the names of all applicants, to ensure that we have no fraudsters and other unsavory characters penetrating this programme, damaging our international reputation and watering down the integrity of our passport,” Tabor said.
In addition to putting the programme on hold, the spokesman also called on government to show proof, that it engaged in the necessary thorough background checks.
“This raises serious questions as to whether or not due diligence is being conducted in a way that is promised by the CIP and in light of these seeming breeches and lack of due diligence, the UPP wants the CIP unit, to provide undeniable proof that due diligence request was made in respect of not only Choksi but all CIP applicants,” Tabor stated.
Meanwhile, he said payment by digital currency for citizenship through the CIP, should be placed on the back burner for the time being.
“The timing of implementing the cryptocurrency purchase for CIP should be extended at least until the scandal blows over and further study can be done, and we should wait until the full Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) assessment of the pros, cons and risk of moving to the cryptocurrency space,” he said.
Tabor then asked, “How can you embark upon such a risky and internationally untrusted option in the current, scandal tainted climate, when we are coming off the loss of visa free access to Canada, other scandals involving our passport and now this latest cloud of scandal?”
He added, “It would be further damage to our international reputation and it would also elevate our investment risk category.”