ST.JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) rejects the article ‘Congressman McCaul: Antigua clamoring to sell passports to Syrian refugees who then make the ‘jump’ to the US Virgin Island,’ under the name of John McCarthy published by the online news portal Virgin Islands Free Press.
It is a complete fabrication and malicious. It falsely misrepresents remarks by US Congressman McCaul. At no time did Congressman McCaul make any allegation that Antigua and Barbuda was clamoring to sell passports to Syrians to jump to the US.
The CIP also notes that the identical, word-for-word article also appeared in an on-line publication, Mondaq, under the name of Ian Moncrief-Scott . This clearly indicates that either John McCarthy or Ian Moncrief-Scott are one and the same person or there is a campaign between them to smear Antigua and Barbuda. Moncreif-Scott has been writing villainous articles about both the UPP and ABLP governments for over 12 years.
Dealing with the false claims in the article, the following points are relevant:
- The Government and CIP do not sell passports. Passports are not for sale.
- No passport has been sold to any person far less refugees from Syria.
- A number of Syrian nationals were detained by the Immigration authorities on suspicion that they may attempt to go to the USVI. But none were holders of Antigua and Barbuda passports of any kind.
- The CIP is not handled or directed by the Prime Minister. A Review Committee of qualified professionals from various sectors, and varying backgrounds manage the CIP.
- The CIP and the citizenship programmes like in every other democratic country, is regulated by law, namely the Citizenship by Investment Act of 2013.
- Citizenship is not granted unless due diligence takes place by internationally respected due diligence agents
- This due diligence process has developed to include not only local and independent international due diligence providers, but also checks with other international bodies and Governments.
- Only after the due diligence is complete, are the applications sent to the Minister and Cabinet for final approval.
The suggestion by the author that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has put a price on its independence by embarking on the CIP is nonsensical. The Nation of Antigua and Barbuda joined many other countries that have citizenship through investment programmes, including Canada, the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Malta as well as others in the Caribbean. These countries have not been accused of compromising their Independence.
Importantly, Antigua and Barbuda Passports are presented to CIP qualifiers for an initial period of 5 years. Only during this time, any person granted citizenship under the CIP is subject to re-evaluation for cause, and revoked where necessary.
The CIP believes that this assault on the integrity of the CIP and the State of Antigua and Barbuda is motivated by malice of the writer who has consistently over the last 15 years or more attacked both the UPP and ABLP governments. (Ends)
Maurice F. Merchant
Director-General of Communications
Office of the Prime Minister
Queen Elizabeth Highway
St. John’s, ANTIGUA and BARBUDA