Ensuring 100 percent of data accuracy is a critical point when filing an individual or collective application for the economic citizenship program. This is because such applications as well as the applicants are subject to a comprehensive due diligence process that often involves independent audit companies from abroad. But sometimes even the most reliable and thought-through system fails. The reason may lie, for example, with a “rusted cog” of the bureaucratic machine in the person of a corrupt official.
If you wanted to obtain a second citizenship by investment of Antigua and Barbuda, accumulated the necessary amount and began to prepare for the implementation of your idea, please note that you should provide your true data. Otherwise, the consequences might be significant. Withholding facts, providing false information and other types of manipulating the facts can turn into serious problems. Even if you manage to deceive the Antiguan officials, it is highly probable that the truth will be revealed in the future. In this case, there is a risk of not only losing the newly purchased second citizenship and passport of Antigua and Barbuda, but also getting no compensation. In other words, all the money invested will go down the drain. This is clearly demonstrated by a recent example that made a fuss in the Antiguan press.
How An “Absent-Minded” Chinese Lost Her Second Citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda
If everything that happened was a soap opera, we could just smile because even the most heartbreaking episodes of such series can often boast a happy end. Unfortunately, instead of a staged series with a happy end we had to watch a reality show. And it was about the second citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda for money.
In September 2019, a number of media outlets in the Caribbean island jurisdiction started to report on the sensation related to this mechanism for attracting foreign investment in exchange for the fast-track granting of citizenship without a lengthy naturalization procedure.
The story of a young Chinese woman got on the front pages of Antiguan newspapers. The woman was stripped of her second citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, and her Caribbean passport was revoked by the local officials, when the Chinese woman arrived in her new homeland with her companion.
At first, the officials answering questions from the media about the case were in no hurry to give clear explanations and were reluctant to share any information. As a result, journalists and their readers have accumulated more questions than answers. But having received at their disposal a few sketchy facts, the wordsmiths began their own investigation and found out a lot of interesting things.
In particular, it turned out that the girl’s name was Sun Qin Qin. She was 26 years old. The Chinese woman was able to buy a second citizenship by investment of Antigua and Barbuda not so long ago. The reason for cancellation of her Caribbean passport was incorrect information in the application for participating in the economic citizenship program of Antigua and Barbuda. What kind of information are we talking about? Height? Weight? Maybe eye color? In fact, it is much more complicated. The woman concealed that her visa application to the United States was rejected in the past.
Why is it so important that the Americans refused to issue a visa to a Chinese woman? Let us recall that under Antiguan law, an application for the passport is automatically rejected even before the donation to the national fund is made or a real estate is bought, if it turns out that the applicant had previously been denied a visa by one or more countries with which Antigua and Barbuda has a visa-free regime.
In addition, providing false information or giving inaccurate data when applying for the economic citizenship program of Antigua and Barbuda is a crime under the Caribbean jurisdiction law. However, according to the Antiguan media, the woman who had lost her Caribbean passport had not yet been charged. After her passport and citizenship were revoked, the Chinese woman was deported from the Caribbean country by a British Airways (BA) flight. Her companion also left the country. In the days leading up to the deportation, representatives of the Antiguan Ministry of Immigration often showed up at the local hotel where the Chinese couple were staying.
Immigration Minister: Owners of Cancelled Second Passports Will Receive No Compensation
Commenting on the incident, Charles Fernandez, Head of the Ministry of Immigration of the Caribbean jurisdiction, who was on an official visit to another country during the investigation, said that the issue had already been resolved. The Minister of Immigration confirmed that the Chinese woman had lost her second passport and citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda. At the same time, the woman also lost her investment.
According to the minister, the 26-year-old Chinese woman paid USD 250,000 for the Antigua passport and citizenship by donation to the National Development Fund (NDF). Her application was approved and the instant naturalization procedure was completed. But the Caribbean authorities later discovered that she had provided false information when applying for the Antigua and Barbuda economic citizenship program.
“According to the preliminary information I have, this foreigner provided incorrect information in the corresponding form when applying for citizenship. The initial check did not show anything, but the re-examination helped to reveal this fact. This is the reason for revocation of the second passport and citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda,” Fernandez said, adding that the Chinese woman will not receive any compensation for her revoked passport.
Why Are the Chinese Buying Up Antiguan Passports?
According to official statistics, as of mid-summer 2018, most of the Antigua passports sold were purchased by Chinese citizens. According to the figures published by the officials in June 2018, the authorities have accepted applications from 1,547 foreigners who decided to buy a second passport by investment of Antigua and Barbuda since the launch of the Caribbean jurisdiction’s own economic citizenship program. At the same time, 625 passports (or 40 per cent of the total) were sold to Chinese citizens.
In other words, the Chinese now hold more second passports of Antigua and Barbuda than any other nationality. Now let us remember the law of large numbers, and it will be possible to conclude that if something should have gone wrong, the incident, with a high probability, should have affected a Chinese woman or a Chinese man.
Either way, the consequences of this particular negative episode in the Antigua and Barbuda economic citizenship program can be far-reaching and very troubling.
So what exactly makes the Chinese buy Antiguan passports? It should be noted that Antigua and Barbuda is the only Caribbean jurisdiction to have successfully launched its own economic citizenship program, whose passport allows to visit Canada without visas. In addition, the local economic citizenship program is at this stage one of the most reliable among the Caribbean ones (the Saint Lucia program is not taken into account, as it has not yet started properly). The Antiguan program, as well as the Grenada program, has not yet been affected by any serious corruption or other scandal, unlike the programs of St. Kitts and the Commonwealth of Dominica.
It should be remembered that the decision to buy a second passport by investment of Antigua and Barbuda forces a Chinese to renounce the citizenship and passport of their historical homeland. That is because the law of the Celestial Empire does not allow the Chinese to have any citizenship other than the direct citizenship of China. And even so, investors from the Asian country buy up Antiguan passports with enviable activity.
The Beginning of the End?
The incident has added fuel to the fire of confrontation between the opponents and supporters of the Antigua and Barbuda economic citizenship program. Skeptics talk about the beginning of the end of the program and its soon curtailing. While its supporters claim that the program feels great and functions extremely efficiently, and the incident with the Chinese is only an exception that confirms the “rule”.
Leader of the opposing United Progressive Party( UPP) Harold Lovell recently warned the government that the existence of the program is under threat. According to the politician, if the effectiveness of the due diligence procedure for citizenship applications is not improved, the economic citizenship program of Antigua and Barbuda would face an unenviable fate in the near future. The disappearance of this mechanism of attracting foreign investment, in turn, will hurt the ruling administration that uses it to meet its financial obligations.
Lovell also indicated that the Government should coordinate the program with foreign partners more effectively. Thus, if officials had sent a request for relevant information on the Chinese woman and waited for a response before issuing her a second citizenship and passport by investment of Antigua and Barbuda, the incident could have been avoided.
Government officials, in turn, denied rumors that the Antigua and Barbuda economic citizenship program had been curtailed and said that its work would be monitored even more closely than before. At the same time, the Minister for Immigration
Charles Fernandez noted that officials overseeing the program are trying to coordinate their actions with foreign partners. However, it is difficult to achieve the ideal coordination of information flows. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda cannot always wait long enough for a response from the United States.
Fernandez also stressed that a single incident after more than 1,500 legally and successfully issued passports is not a sign that the economic citizenship program of Antigua and Barbuda has critical flaws.
After the statements by Lovell and his colleagues with the opposition party, the Prime Minister of the Caribbean jurisdiction Gaston Browne decided to express his opinion on the issue. Speaking at the next session of Parliament, Browne said his administration was “determined to make sure that this program remains one of the best and most promising in the world.” The politician stressed that the Antiguan program currently “ranks foremost in the Caribbean and ranks number two internationally in terms of reliability, transparency and efficiency of control.”
Browne said that information on the passport cancellation incident was not hidden and “was made public.” Thus, the officials want to show all interested parties, citizens of the Caribbean country and international partners that the program is really transparent and characterized by the highest level of reliability.
Browne noted that the reason for the passport cancellation was “misinformation” and not “participation in criminal activity.” This shows that “the system works.” The Prime Minister also underlined that in addition to the pre-approval of applicants via due diligence procedure, the authorities are also using the mechanism of subsequent monitoring of successful applicants for illegal activities.
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