Two years ago, the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis, as a component of its Citizenship by Investment (economic passport) program, sponsored the creation of the Sugar Industry Diversification Program (SIDF), which was designed to develop alternative economic growth, in fields other than the obsolete sugar export industry.
The SIDF has reportedly received more than $1.5bn since its formation, but a recent outside study, commissioned to determine the efficiency of the program, has determined that major flaws exist, that there may have been massive corruption in the awarding of funds, for purely political purposes, and that there is insufficient documentation to support any meaningful investigation.
Was $1bn distributed to curry political favor, or to party allies and cronies ? Did projects that were not economically viable receive funds anyway ? Finally, were bribes & kickbacks paid, as illegal compensation from the recipients of the funds ?
Until we have the answers to those questions, compliance officers at financial institutions, located both in North America, and the United Kingdom, would be well advised to conduct enhanced due diligence upon an St Kitts nationals who maintain large accounts in their banks. Were their accounts only nominal until the period since 2014, and after that, did their size substantially increase ? What was the SKN political affiliation of these affluent clients ?
Whether the present St Kitts government will decide to "claw back" improperly made payments, to especially favored recipients from the same political party as the former administration we cannot say, but the negative publicity surrounding being named as the depository of illegal funding cannot be discounted. Kindly check out your best St Kitts clients now, to avoid the embarrassment, and hard questions in thew press, at a later date.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock
Chronicles of Monte Friesner