The St. Kitts and Nevis government has issued a passport recall in an attempt to calm concerns that its passport-for-investment program is being used for nefarious purposes.
Passports issued between January 2012 and July of this year are to be replaced with passports that show the holder’s place of birth and name changes—information that was omitted on passports issued during that specific time period.
The recall came soon after the Canadian government announced that it has halted visa-free entry for holders of St. Kitts and Nevis passports. The Canadian announcement is alleged to be in response to an Iranian national holding a diplomatic St. Kitts and Nevis passport and falsely claiming to Canadian border agents that he had a meeting with the prime minister. Also, in May 2013, a Canadian fugitive, wanted for the biggest corruption fraud in Canadian history, was caught travelling on a St. Kitts and Nevis passport in Panama.
The St. Kitts and Nevis government downplayed the situation, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Patrice Nisbett stating in a public broadcast that “Canada has important security concerns, the government recognizes this and the government of St. Kitts and Nevis will do all in its power to respect and accommodate the concerns of such an important ally.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis passport-for-investment program offers passports for a US$250,000 donation or a US$400,000 real estate investment. A St. Kitts and Nevis passport grants visa-free entry to more than 100 countries. The program has been at the center of criticisms, with some citing several fugitives using the passports to evade arrest in their home countries.
In May of this year, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network warned banks against dealing with St. Kitts and Nevis passport holders. The decision mentioned “lax controls” and “illicit actors” possessing the passports.
The St. Kitts and Nevis passport-for-investment program is also a legitimate personal tool for international tax planning and investing. Safer travel, easier travel, less costly travel, safe haven, easier access to foreign banking, increased access to foreign investment options, expanded business opportunities—the advantages of carrying a second passport can be many.
Former St. Kitts and Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Condor told The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer the recall “is a national crisis,” stating that not having place of birth and name changes disclosed on the passports was a major incentive for passport applicants.
The recall began Dec. 10, 2014, and takes place until Jan. 31, 2015. According to reports, passports not submitted during the recall will be deactivated and cancelled.