LONDON, April 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Financial Times’ Private Wealth Management (PWM) magazine recently hosted a virtual panel discussion on the impact of global risks on countries with Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes.
As part of its PWM Perspectives series, the four-part panel discussion shares the views and insights of notable experts from major due diligence investigation agencies including Karen Kelly, director of strategy and development at Exiger; Eddy Leviton, chief operating officer at Fact WorldWide and Heyrick Bond Gunning, chief operating officer at S-RM.
The panel, moderated by Yuri Bender, editor in chief Professional Wealth Management magazine, shone a spotlight on due diligence processes amid rising geopolitical risks.
More and more savvy investors, entrepreneurs and families are looking for legitimate ways to protect and grow their wealth and investments amid rising uncertainty throughout the world. These people are looking for safe and trusted plan B routes that will ensure that their longevity should the environment change for the worst in their home countries.
Obtaining an alternative citizenship by contributing financially to another country’s economic or social needs is one way to do this. There is growing attention being given to countries who offer citizenship by investment and how they verify credentials of families and entrepreneurs looking to secure a new citizenship.
Speaking on the verification process, Karen Kelly, director of strategy and development at Exiger says “When a country is considering bestowing citizenship to an investor it requires a very in depth look at that investor – who they are, what their background is and where their funds are coming from. A third piece of that is engaging a third-party expert to ensure the veracity of all the information supplied.”
Due diligence mainly involves a number of processes with the main ones being document verification, checking if an applicant has criminal convictions and hits on sanctions lists or watch lists around the world, checking whether the applicant is subject to litigation or judgements, verifying the applicant’s source of wealth and the applicant’s reputation – a process that spans more than a 10 year period. The due diligence process does not only make use of available online resources and cross-referencing different databases but also makes use of on the ground intelligence who are able to ask face-to-face questions.
All this information is then submitted in report format by the intelligence agency to the client, which is the host country.
Heyrick Bond Gunning, chief operating officer at S-RM emphasised that continuous monitoring is key to a robust due diligence programme. “People’s circumstances change and what we as intelligence agencies do is provide countries evidence of a snapshot in time. Lifetime monitoring is something CBI Units are now doing to stay on top of any potential challenges and issues that may arise.”
This new layer of ongoing monitoring has become a key pillar of CBI Units in Caribbean jurisdictions, which are setting global best practices when it comes to advancements in due diligence processes.
This is especially true now, proactive countries in the Caribbean are now looking at past approved applicants to see who may cause issues in the future ahead of potential sanctions.
With growing negative attention on CBI countries, many CBI units are acutely aware of the work they need to do maintain the reputation and integrity of their CBI offerings.
Funds from CBI programmes often provide a vital source of income for some countries, especially in times of crisis – as is often the case for Caribbean countries devastated by hurricanes – these countries value the investment that goes into their economies, and the benefits to their people.
To that end, Caribbean nations offer some of the most rigorous due diligence checks when compared to some countries in Europe. The due diligence standards in the Caribbean region are some of the most effective in minimising perceived and actual security risks.
Host countries who are transparent and follow proper due diligence processes also positively impact their own brand and reputation in the international market.
Caribbean nations have been known to take a risk-based approach and are actively involved throughout the whole process.
Countries are particularly proactive in engaging their regional and international law enforcement and intelligence partners for information sharing agreements and are increasingly mandating that immigration and marketing agents who bring on applicants carry out certain minimum Know Your Customer due diligence processes.
Chief operating officer at Fact WorldWide, Eddy Leviton adds by saying countries who offer citizenship by investment are offering “high levels of due diligence, with some using two diligence agencies to cross check information.”
They know that the reputational risk to their brand and their programmes is so high, that they are making sure that due diligence is of the highest standards.
“As custodians of the citizenship by investment industry, we have made a concerted effort to support and guide governments to put extra attention on due diligence processes as this is the cornerstone of success for the programmes and a prerequisite to gaining trust of the international community,” says Paul Singh, Director at CS Global Partners – a leading citizenship planning firm.
Caribbean countries offer some of the most robust due diligence processes in the industry as some of their citizenship by investment programmes have been around for decades, as is the case with St Kitts and Nevis’ Programme which was established in 1984 and that of Dominica which was established in 1993.
These countries realise the importance of protecting and enhancing not only their reputation in the international community but also ensuring that their citizens and applicants know that they are investing in reputable and trusted brands for their businesses and families.
Professional Wealth Management, from the FT Group, is the premier resource for private banking and mutual fund coverage in Europe, Asia and beyond.
Watch the series here: https://video.pwmnet.com/