St Kitts-Nevis passports deactivated for fugitive economic citizens
By Valencia Grant
BASSETERRE, St Kitts — The government of St Kitts and Nevis has deactivated the passports belonging to the two economic citizens alleged to have defrauded state institutions in China out of US$100 million.
“They don’t have a St Kitts and Nevis passport on which they could travel,” Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris disclosed during his press conference last week.
“So they have no legitimate passport for St Kitts and Nevis,” Harris added.
During a last week, Harris informed the public that the St Kitts-Nevis government is actively investigating the matter surrounding the economic citizens of Chinese descent, who applied for and obtained St Kitts and Nevis citizenship in 2013 during the tenure of the Denzil Douglas regime and have been living in the Federation since 2014.
The former Douglas regime had granted them St Kitts and Nevis passports with their country of origin concealed.
This dubious practice by the former regime of issuing passports without the country of birth field may very well have been a factor in the Canadian government’s decision to revoke the visa-free status of citizens of St Kitts and Nevis, effective November 22, 2014. The announcement by Canada at the time cited “concerns about the issuance of passports and identity management practices within its [St Kitts and Nevis] citizenship by investment program.”
According to records provided by the Canadian Bank Note [the company that produces passports for most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states, including St Kitts and Nevis], 15,197 regular passports, 91 diplomatic and 39 official passports were issued without the country of birth field under the Denzil Douglas regime. The total (15,327 passports) amounts to almost 30 percent of the country’s population.
“My government has taken the decision to deactivate all passports issued by the former government without the country of birth field,” Harris informed the public during one of his monthly press conferences back on March 9th, 2017.
“All such holders will have to reapply for a new passport, which will contain the relevant country of birth field and they will pay the cost of the new passport. This, of course, is an imperative to safeguard the integrity of our passport, to comply with international best practices, and to satisfy our commitment to being a responsible member of the international community,” Harris explained.
At last week’s press conference, attorney general Vincent Byron said the two Chinese economic citizens in question were issued St Kitts and Nevis passports back in September 2013 and “the three passports [one out of the three passports was issued for a child] that they had were deactivated among the 15,197.”
The attorney general further stated that they have recently reapplied for the passports, but “[the Ministry of National Security] has not issued any passports to these two and they do not have a valid St Kitts and Nevis passport.”