April 01, 2019 Mazhar Farooqui
Dubai: A Dubai-based immigration firm has been terminated by Saint Kitts and Nevis as their registered International Marketing Agent (IMA) and can no longer submit applications to the Caribbean nation’s much sought after Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
In a notice circulated on March 20, the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Saint Kitts & Nevis has advised stakeholders that the Dubai-based firm in question is no longer a registered IMA and is not authorised to submit files under their residency programme.
The Citizenship by Investment Unit also warned that “effective immediately” it will not process any new file originating from the firm and any service provider submitting files from the entity could have their licence suspended.
The notice comes more than a month after a Gulf News Special Report on how some immigration agents in Dubai were circumventing legal requirements or forging documents to process the citizenship applications of St Kitts & Nevis at way-below government-sanctioned rates, depriving the government of valuable foreign currency.
The February 10 Gulf News story also reported on a probe against the Dubai-based firm for allegedly forging a St Kitts-Nevis government letter.
The St Kitts-Nevis-based citizenship firm to whom the letter was addressed, earlier told Gulf News that “it was not involved in any way” with the altering of the government-issued approval letter.
The president of the citizenship firm said they received an approval letter (dated October 15, 2018) for their client from CIU and forwarded the same to a Dubai-based immigration firm but in mid-November they found out that the letter had been altered from its original form.
Subsequently, the citizenship firm snapped ties with the Dubai-based company and wrote to the CIU calling for an urgent investigation to identity the party or parties involved in the apparent forgery.
However, the Dubai-based firm said they are not aware if they are facing any investigation in St Kitts and Nevis. The company also hinted legal action against the CIU.
In an email to Gulf News, the company said it is no longer carrying out new business with St Kitts and Nevis, having not renewed its licence at the start of this year.
“The firm is, for the time being, focusing on other jurisdictions for its clients across the globe. The statement issued by the Citizenship by Investment Unit on 20 March 2019 is both disappointing and surprising,” the Dubai-based firm said, adding that they are consulting with lawyers as to the appropriate next steps.
However, it did not comment on a Gulf News query about allegations of forgery.
Around 2,000 applications are received annually for St Kitts-Nevis citizenship which offers visa free travel to over 130 countries. Many of these applicants are from GCC countries.