The fallout continues from the now infamous St.Kitts-Nevis Diplomat Passport scandal which came to light in 2013 when an Iranian businessman tried to enter the Canadian border with a St.Kitts-Nevis Diplomatic passport which he told Canadian authorities he bought for $1 million from officials in St.Kitts.
The Iranian made the Canadian border authorities suspicious when he declared that he was there to see the Canadian Prime Minister. When the authorities contacted the Canadian Embassy they stated that they knew of no such visit. After being questioned the Iranian revealed that he had paid $1 million for the diplomatic St.Kitts-Nevis Passport he was travelling on.
The revelation created an explosion of heightened attention and scrutiny of the St.Kitts-Nevis Citizenship by Investment or Passport Sales Programme.
The Canadians issued a statement expressing concern about the SKN Passport Sales programme and in particular the decision to remove place of birth from the passports. They further told authourities in St.Kitts-Nevis that they needed to quickly plug all the security holes that they had found in the programme.
Today over a year later the Canadian Government has issued a Notice which declares that Citizens of St.Kitts-Nevis will no longer have there long standing Visa Free Access privilege to Canada and are now required to obtain a Visa in order to enter Canada.
The Sun News Canada stated in a story regarding the development that The Canadian government imposed the visa requirements due to national security concerns.
They went on to state that “A Canadian government source said authorities have evidence that people with ties to terrorist organizations and organized crime are using the easily obtained St. Kitts passport to avoid immigration screening.
Canadian authorities are concerned that people who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible to enter Canada for security reasons could change their names and sneak into Canada using St. Kitts passports.”
The Sun News Report further stated that a Government Source indicated to them that “the majority of St. Kitts-Nevis passport buyers are from Syria and Iran and that “questionable individuals” have received St. Kitts-Nevis passports.”
Over the last 2 years an almost Who’s Who of International Criminals and suspected Terrorist Organisation associates have gotten their hands on St.Kitts-Nevis Passports.
Here is a snapshot of the kinds of characters that have purchased diplomatic and other passports issued by St Kitts and Nevis, drawing serious warnings from the Canadian and US governments, among others:
• Dr Arthur Porter, the man behind what a Canadian police investigator described as “the biggest corruption fraud in the history of Canada” and who is currently fighting extradition from Panama.
• Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodori, who is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. In 2011, the United States government filed a corruption charge against him, seized US$70 million of his assets. In July 2012, the French police filed a warrant for his arrest, and one month later they seized his mansion in Paris, as well as his cars.
• Rustem Tursunbayev, who is wanted for embezzlement in Kazakhstan.
• Alireza Moghadam, an Iranian, entered Canada with a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport, claiming untruthfully that he was there to meet with officials, including the Canadian prime minister. Moghadam reportedly told Canadian immigration officials that he paid $1 million for his diplomatic passport.
• Godswill Obot Akpabio, the governor of Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria, who reportedly also carries a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport. Akpabio has been accused of orchestrating secret and silent killings, assassinations and unprecedented abuse of power.
• Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, who is facing trial in Nigeria for obtaining money by false pretences, forgery, using false documents and conspiring to fraudulently obtain money from the Nigerian government. A judge in Nigeria refused him bail in October 2012 because of Ogunbambo’s criminal past and his “crooked history of illicitly obtaining international passports”, and with different identities.
• Pourya Nayebi, Houshang Hosseinpour and Hushang Farsoudeh, all Iranian holders of St Kitts and Nevis economic citizenship, are at the centre of a US Treasury Department investigation into companies in Switzerland and elsewhere that are evading US sanctions against Iran.
Also: “On May 20, 2014, the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory to financial institutions stating that foreign individuals are abusing the St Kitts and Nevis programme for the purpose of engaging in illicit financial activity.
Specifically, FinCEN believes that illicit actors are abusing the programme to acquire citizenship in order to mask their identity and geographic background for the purpose of evading US or international sanctions or engaging in other financial crime.”
The outrage by Citizens is already palpable and has been directed at the Minority Regime of Dr. Denzil Douglas who continue to remain in office despite the filing of a motion of no confidence by the Majority of MP’s in the Parliament since December of 2012. The PM has lost favour with not only the majority of MP’s but also the citizens of the country who according to recent polls are 72% in favour of a new government led by Dr. Timothy Harris, the Leader of the Tri-Party Alliance known as Team UNITY.
Dr. Harris was a former Senior Minister who along with former Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor exited the Douglas led Labour Administration citing Douglas’ corrupt leadership among many other issues as their reasons for leaving the administration after some 17 years.
This is a huge blow to the citizens and the development of the small Twin Island Nation. Canada is home to thousands of St.Kitts-Nevis Nationals and according to reports close to 1000 Kittitians and Nevisians visit Canada annually.
A Canadian government official said that the restrictions should be seen as an important signal that protecting the safety and security of Canada and Canadians is a top priority for the government there.