LONDON — Due diligence is the essence of the success of the Citizenship by Investment Programme from St Kitts and Nevis, according to Les Khan, the CEO of the Unit in charge.

During a webinar on April 1st, 2020, organised by London-headquartered government advisory CS Global Partners, Mr Khan explained the multi-tiered process that all applicants must undergo to obtain second citizenship from the twin-island nation.

Anyone aged over 18 can obtain citizenship from St Kitts and Nevis, provided they first meet all the due diligence requirements. Built over the years, the application process from St Kitts and Nevis now involves a complex vetting mechanism. It ensures that those who become economic citizens are of good moral standing and do not pose a security or even reputational threat neither to St Kitts and Nevis nor its international partners.

“Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege,” said Mr Khan during CS Global Partners’ webinar last week, and that, ultimately, “due diligence determines who can qualify.” On what exactly the due diligence process entails, Mr Les Khan explains that several separate entities are involved which produce a cohesive and objective report on an applicant’s integrity.

Firstly, once cannot apply directly to the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) and must instead hire an authorised person, commonly referred to as an agent. After the agent’s screening, the application goes to a licenced service provider on the island, who carry out another level of due diligence. It is in their interest to recommend high quality applicants because “the service provider is ultimately approved by our financial regulatory fund and then become a service provider,” Mr Khan clarifies.

Next, the application is passed on to the CIU who checks the documentation and forwards it to any of the six international due diligence agencies the Unit works with, each specialised in different regions. “They then send that information to one of their sub-agents on the ground to where that client resides,” Mr Khan explains. This will include checking civil registries, local records and even local media. They compile all this information in a due diligence report and pass it back to the CIU.

Meanwhile, CIU also collaborates with international law enforcement to check against any money laundering, terrorist and criminal activity, including in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada. Finally, the CIU studies all these reports and validates the information that the applicant has provided, ensuring there are no mismatches.

Asked if the complex vetting process may seem onerous for busy HNWIs, Mr Khan explains that “the burden comes when there is information that comes up in the due diligence report that maybe the client did not disclose.” Nonetheless, the process is streamlined and can take up to 60 days, should an applicant ask for expedited processing for a premium fee. This feature is called the “Accelerated Application Process” and covers the fast-track service from external due diligence providers. In addition, choosing the Sustainable Growth Fund route also saves time and reduces additional paperwork.

St Kitts and Nevis was the first country in the world to offer Citizenship by Investment, enshrined in legislation in 1984. The Programme is now considered the ‘Platinum Standard’ of CBI for investors seeking second citizenship that can be passed on, that offers lifetime safety and security, along with the right to live, work and study in a modern country gracing the world’s top 30 for rule of law.