PM Drew: CBI Unit Bill 2024 to increase CIU’s accountability, transparency

On Tuesday, the Dr. Terrance Drew-led government tabled the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship By Investment Unit bill which is intended to increase the “transparency and accountability” of the unit. It also makes provisions for the Citizenship By Investment Unit to access financial resources to manage the unit. 

The greater portion of collected CBI revenues will continue to be paid into the consolidated fund which is managed by the Ministry of Finance.

According to Prime Minister Drew, the laxity in the administration of the CBI by the previous coalition government threatened not just the programme, but also the country’s reputation in the  international community and the ability of ordinary citizens to gain visa free access to several key nations. 

After coming to office in 2022, the Drew administration moved swiftly to address several concerns surrounding the programme, including the extremely low cost to access the privilege of acquiring St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship. Issues related to the security of the programme by nations in the international community were also addressed. These interventions, along with cooperation with other OECS nations in the reform of their programmes, led to the return of visa free access to Canada and increased United States visa quotas for Kittitians and Nevisians.

The tabling of the CBI Unit bill is the result of the findings of a report compiled by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

More recently, St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as other OECS nations with CBI programmes, came under the laser scrutiny of the European Union which threatened to revoke visa free access to the twenty-seven Schengen Area nations if swift measures were not implemented to increase the integrity of CBI programmes in the region. 

In his introduction of the bill, the prime minister explained, “CBI jurisdictions should consider designating a specific specialist government agency, state corporation or specialist operational unit that holds the end-to-end responsibility of the safe day-to-day operation of an investment migration programme and which is subject to effective oversight. 

“This is a natural professionalisation evolution of a 40-year-old programme, Madam Speaker. There is a need for the CIU to have independent professional management and high-performing staff; there is a need for the CIU to become a body corporate with an even more robust Board of Governors who report to the minister with responsibility for citizenship.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Drew disclosed that the implementation of the International Due Diligence Unit (DDU) within the Ministry of National Security is near. In addition to screening of CBI applicants, the DDU will continue to monitor those who are successful to ensure their continued compliance and suitability to hold St. Kitts and Nevis passports. 

Explaining the necessity of the DDU which will be based in Europe, Dr. Drew said, “This is fundamentally important. This is a next-generation type of policy which St. Kitts and Nevis is introducing. So, this Due Diligence Unit within the Ministry of National Security will make sure to act as a vigilant and proactive entity, employing intelligence gathering, analyses, and collaboration to mitigate risks associated with the continued operation of our CBI Programme.” 

The DDU’s mandate includes:

Retrieving passports issued by St. Kitts and Nevis that have been cancelled by the Minister per the Sworn to Passport and Travel Documents Act;

Ensuring that citizens holding passports issued by St. Kitts and Nevis, and residing and working internationally, abide by the laws of the country in which they reside and visit, and also abide by international laws;

Creating policies to mitigate and address any risks associated with individuals who acquire citizenship through the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI programme;

Alerting the Ministry of National Security about citizens who are the subject of international investigation for, or have been arrested or/and charged with financial or other crimes;


and liaising with and reporting to international law enforcement, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist agencies when citizens are being investigated, have committed or have been arrested and/or charged with crimes.

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