(Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister)
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- The Federation is taking steps to strengthen the Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill, Attorney General, the Honourable Vincent Byron told a meet and greet forum with economic citizens and agents in Dubai last week.
The CBI Escrow Accounts legislation, passed in November 2017, provides guidelines relating to escrow accounts and agreements under the CBI Programme. An escrow, under the CBI Programme, is a short-lived trust arrangement, which is the main mechanism for the consummation of real property sales. An escrow agent is a third party responsible for oversight of the monies, whilst the buying and selling process is being undertaken.
Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Les Khan, stated that the new legislation will significantly strengthen the country’s CBI programme by paying particular attention to construction and the payout of funds in escrow.
“It will ensure that any client purchasing a real estate option, the purchasing sale agreement must always be at the face amount of the investment – that being either the $200,000 or $400,000. An escrow agreement must be in place for the same amount,” said Khan. “In the new legislation all real estate transactions will have to go into escrow and then released from escrow upon certification of the various stages of completion of the project. So basically, the escrow agreements will have payout stages.”
Khan said that the new legislation will tighten the Government’s position and would “ensure that applications placed for real estate would be used for construction. This is different to what was done in the past because the regulations weren’t strong enough to ensure that payouts from escrow were based on construction levels.”
The Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill, 2017, contains a clause that identifies who would be allowed to be CBI escrow agents in St Kitts and Nevis,” said Khan. “These include a bank or any other entity whose business includes the provision of trust or custodial services; a registered trust company or any other entity whose business is the provision of trust or custodial services; an attorney-at-law; or a chartered accountant – all under certain conditions.
It also requires all CBI escrow agents to be licensed, and to conduct their escrow business in accordance with specified guidelines.