Six individuals have had their citizenship status – previously obtained through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) – revoked by the St Lucian government. The former citizens lost their status after “committing acts which may bring St. Lucia into disrepute.”
The foreign nationals stripped of their citizenship were named in the St. Lucia Gazette on March 26: Hamid Sakhidad Barahooei, Sanioura Ali El Sayed, Mariya Barahooei, Taliya Barahooei, Shamel Alabboush, and Emad Ahmed Mohsen Alzari.
Revocations of citizenship after an application has been approved have been rare since the CIP began. However, St Lucia and other CARICOM nations have recently increased the level of scrutiny for applications in order to preserve the legitimacy of investment migration programs in the region.
Nestor Alfred, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, clarified the circumstances in which an applicant can have their citizenship denied or revoked:
“We have had instances in this programme where we have gotten the all-clear from our law enforcement and we have denied citizenship to those persons, because there may be some relevant information that those persons may have not given to us. For example, were they holders of a second passport? They may not disclose the fact that they are shareholders of six companies. They may not have told us that their spouse was arrested for some criminal matter. On that premise, irrespective whether they have been cleared by law enforcement, we would have denied them citizenship.”
The current opposition party in St Lucia has been highly critical of the CBI program in the past, but Alfred maintains that the vetting process is strict and thorough. All applications pass through due diligence firms on an international level. Firms based in America, Canada, and England use their resources to accumulate information on applicants such as their associates, their listed companies, the activities of family members, and more.
Additional third-party firms are hired to monitor and compile information on civil and criminal proceedings in other countries.
The individuals who lost their citizenship demonstrate that, while many CBI programs provide a convenient route to a second passport, this privilege can be just as easily stripped away for bad behavior.