|Published on July 4, 2017|
By Caribbean News Now contributor DUBAI, UAE — The first hearing in legal proceedings for alleged defamation filed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by well known regional and global citizenship consultants Arton Group against the International Migration Council (IMC) and its representative office in Dubai began this week.
The Arton Group of companies is a Canadian group that has partnered with the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia, along with other countries around the world, in relation to their citizenship by investment programmes, as well as advising more than 5,000 investors on investment programmes that empower global citizenship.
In December 2016, IMC, Transparency International (Hungary) and Dr Boldizsár Nagy published a report entitled “In whose interests? Shadows over the Hungarian Residency Bond Program”, which is, in Arton’s view, defamatory, contains false information and has caused serious reputational damage to the firm’s business.
In its statement of claim filed in Dubai, Arton said it has spent over a decade building a reputation of trust with governments around the world, as well as building understanding with the investment community.
The report, which was publicised and distributed to a number of third parties, including individuals in the residency and citizenship industry, is said to contain many inaccuracies with the aim of intentionally discrediting the Arton Group. As a result, the report has allegedly caused serious damage to the reputation of the Arton Group to the tune of €10 million (US$11.42 million).
Arton contends that the spread of this false information forms part of a broader smear campaign that it believes is intended to damage its reputation within the industry.
“Arton Capital takes its reputation extremely seriously and will take all necessary steps to correct falsehoods and protect its hard-won reputation for trust and diligence. The founders of the company are committed to driving forward the highest standards of best practice, regulation, and governance for the industry,” the firm said in a press release last month.
IMC is a Geneva-based self-proclaimed oversight association for investor migration and citizenship-by-investment prominently backed by Henley & Partners, another consultancy firm active in the Eastern Caribbean economic citizenship programmes.
Henley chairman Christian Kalin is one of the five-strong governing board of IMC and his critics have said that he is using the organisation to attack his commercial rivals. Several resignations earlier this year from IMC’s advisory committee were apparently prompted by concern over potential lawsuits and IMC’s involvement in attacking residency programmes such as Hungary’s going beyond its stated mission.
IMC was established in October 2014 with the stated aim of bringing together stakeholders within the immigration and citizenship by investment industry and to give the industry a voice and, for reasons best known to itself, said it will soon be opening a representative office in Barbados.
Meanwhile, perhaps in an attempt to escape the court’s jurisdiction in Dubai, IMC is apparently trying to deny that it ever had a representative office there, even though it was widely reported when first opened in 2015. A press release to this effect was also published by a Middle East news agency but the corresponding page on IMC’s website is no longer accessible.