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C.I.P. UNDER FIRE – Specialist Cites Lack Of Transparency

Programme Has Risks For St. Lucia For No Benefits.

Image of Dr. Juerg Steffen
Dr. Juerg Steffen [PHOTO: Henley & Partners]
AN international financial services expert says St. Lucia’s four month old Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is not well designed and suffers from structural problems and lack of transparency.

Dr. Juerg Steffen, the Managing Partner of Henley and Partners based in Singapore, discussed St Lucia’s CIP in an April 8 interview with Group Public Relations Coordinator, Mara Ispas. The text of the interview appeared on the company’s website

Steffen who has had more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry was once a personal advisor for the members of one of the wealthiest families in Europe and a member of the management board and head of the wealth planning department of a leading private bank in Austria.

Asked for his overall impression of St Lucia’s CIP launched in January, he replied: “The programme as it appears now is unfortunately not well designed and has a number of issues, including structural problems and the lack of transparency”.

He pointed to several “fundamental problems”. One of them was the low real estate investment requirement of US$ 300,000, which he said was lower than the requirement of US$ 400,000 in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis, and US$ 350,000 in Grenada.

Added Steffen: “St. Lucia therefore positions itself just above Dominica, which has a real estate investment requirement of US$ 200,000 and is at the bottom end of the market. St. Lucia’s tourism is much more upmarket, as is its real estate market, and thus it should be placed at least on par with Antigua and Barbuda, currently the most important citizenship-by-investment programme in the Caribbean. Why would you want to place St. Lucia at a lower price band? It kind of cheapens the country’s image”.

The second problem, Steffen said, was the introduction of a government bond option, which he described as “absurd”. He explained: “It makes no sense to create an option to increase the country’s debt, when it is proven that investors are happy to make a non-refundable donation to a national sovereign fund, as demonstrated in other reputable and successful programmes. This option is only lucrative for investors and agents, but it gives no benefits to the country. Why would a country give full citizenship to someone on the basis of a loan which has to be repaid by the nation after a few years? Hungary is a strong example of how poorly this option works; with every ‘investor’ in Hungary, the Hungarian state actually loses money. I doubt that this is what St. Lucia currently needs.

“Furthermore, there is also a requirement for every applicant to submit a sworn affidavit to declare financial resources of at least US$ 3 million. This is likely to be off-putting to many high net worth individuals. Why would they want to make such declarations, and what is the point anyway?”

In addition to this, Steffen said, the definition of qualifying real estate seemed to be problematic, as it appears to include investments in shares. He added: “This raises questions of security regulations both in St. Lucia and everywhere those shares are promoted to investors. All those involved in promoting such shares would need to be licensed in the relevant jurisdictions. Not impossible, but difficult, and bringing a lot of future risks to the country for no obvious benefit when straightforward real estate purchase has worked well to date”.

Asked whether there were any marketing agents involved in the programme, Steffen replied: “We understand that certain firms have been offered contracts as marketing agents, but there has been no transparency or open tender process. There are public invitations to participate for authorized agents and approved properties, and it should be the same with marketing agents. I understand that a number of firms have expressed an interest to be such agents, but their emails have not been acknowledged.

“If such agents have been appointed or if offers have been made, the selection process and the terms and conditions of the contracts, especially the remuneration, should be made public. Most importantly, it should be made clear what criteria have been applied, and what independent due diligence reports, including competency and track record, were carried out before such appointments were made”.

Steffen said his company, Henley & Partners was actually offered a contract as a marketing agent. “However, we chose to decline the offer, because we will not risk damaging our reputation by being involved in the current set up of the programme”.

Steffen said it was understanding that the St Lucia Parliament, and by extension the people of St. Lucia, were not being given an opportunity to be informed and partake in debate before the implementation of very important components of the programme contained in the Regulations and Guidelines.

He said: “These important components did not arise from the Task Force Report (of the committee headed by former Prime Minister Vaughan Lewis) which we also studied carefully. That’s not good.

“The strategy of placing core components of the programme in the Regulations and Guidelines that did not come before Parliament must be seen as a deliberate attempt by the Government to keep these vital aspects of the programme hidden from public scrutiny and from the people of St. Lucia”.

28 Comments

    1. This malignant SLP government is rotting from its head. The head is increasing becoming more unhinged with appearance and statement. The country is continuously being placed in a financial sinkhole with so many idiotic experiments taken and adopted regarding high stakes international finance and economics. This financial ignorance of this entire SLP government machine, in and out, is still bankrupting this economy.
      It is time to get rid of all these children we have in the SLP government. Little children are playing with economic fire. Put real men in government. Let real men deal with real world issues. Backward insular greying children can never rise to the demands of a competitive world or with international world trade issues. There pitiable SLP speaks for itself.
      Just wishing and copying other countries without the absolutely necessary skills or understanding, both in an our of government does not make a positive difference. You either have it or you don’t. This continuing SLP saga of financial failure, and incompetence including a badly VAT introduction bear painful testimony.
      Are Saint Lucians simply suckers for punishment? It would seem so. They continue to re-instate their tormentors, our famous incompetents and favourite ignoramuses in elections every chance we get.

    2. Henley & Partners are the marketing agents for Antigua and St Kitt’s Citizenship by investment program. Therefore, they have a vested interest in the success of St Kitts and Antigua’s program. Saint Lucia is seen by them as competitors so in true business fashion, they have resorted to lambasting the Saint Lucian program in the hopes that investors reject it, meaning more potential business for the islands they promote. His opinion seems bias and overly critical and as right thinking individuals, we should be able to sift through the bull****.

  1. this f****ing bull shiter white-trash juerg steffer from Singapore is looking 4 a f***ing job from st.lucia
    he is trying 2 find fault in every aspect of the program. if he was of any used 2 Singapore it would not b in more financial shit than st.lucia.
    allan trump will try his best 2 have his white trash friends come and attack all that is beneficial 4 our people 4 his crazy hunger 2 b P M.
    allan trump try and come again u will never b P M u can’t even win a seat and u will never win a seat in the house.
    why those things like steffer don’t stay in their f******ing hole and play with their f****ing toy size dick and cry.

    1. He is not looking for a Job. Didn’t you read his credentials. Did you read that his business firm was offered a marking job under St Lucia CIP and they turned it down because it was at risk of damaging their reputation.

      1. This shows that time and time again, regarding international business SLP governments are not ready at all, at all, at all for prime time.
        It is just one costly failure or disaster after another. These people don’t know bull foot from bull cow about money, capital and finance.
        International companies do not even want to touch the SLP with a barge poll. It will be a continuing nationwide disaster to re-elect any one of those failing politicians. SLP has no runs on the scoreboard. The clock is ticking to D-day. Get them another open spot to turn the sod. Look out! More imaginary pie-in-the-sky buildings are going skywards.

      2. It is deeply troubling that young people of this country are being led into a future facing an economy with mounting debt. This is all because of the financial ignorance and incompetence of years of unproductive SLP debt. Given the burden to be carried by past and existing debt, we are still witnessing growing stupidity by a government placing even more debt obligations on a very fragile tourism economy. This is a curse of the SLP’s Orwellian ‘better days.’
        And as if this is not grave enough, we have the immature mishandling of the for IMPACS report raising all kinds of hell for this country in international capitals. I cannot understand why we must continue to entertain any of these jokers, and not vote them all out of office to the very last one?

    2. Not surprised! We have a whole cabinet full and executive of like-minded dolts who do not even have the competence to know that they are at the deep end and international business is way way over their heads. This country has never ever been so mismanaged by so many incompetents at one time. Never! These matter are beyond their ken. So they attack the messenger.
      If Saint Lucians have any sense at all, the entire party to the last man or woman should lose their deposit at the next election. Now we all know why CSME is a cruel joke with companies CLICO and parties like the SLP tormenting our hapless populations led by untrained and greedy incompetents.
      Besides this , they are trying to slide in the architect of this financial, international, and diplomatic embarrassment into government as our next incompetent PM.

    3. How many INTERNATIONAL financial fiascos must this little but very poor country suffer from before dummies like these ever get it? Two terms and we get Rochamel, Black Bay Investment, Grinberg sell out of the Northern Sea Bed, Jalaffing, and ‘See I Pee in your eyes and you bathe in it like if it is rain.’

    1. Well said Mike – This shows the level of desperation by those red cap jumbies, will they ever get anything right.

  2. Sorry for including Donald Trump in my reply, but why does this prophet Optical bring in race in his reply to this article. And by the way who is Allan Trump-

    1. gene smith
      it only take a bigger ignoramus like u 2 know an ignorant person
      where race comes in u say ?
      only a coon like u will ask such a question !
      go try 2 make it right with your family
      go-away fly !

      1. I don’t normally comment on these, but I am reading the comments and I am wondering why does one have to be insinuative to others to make a point. It speaks volume to me that is. I like a good informative read and comments but gosh.

  3. The government is a reflection of the nature and character of these limited people up there. Anybody who sounds different from the Oracle of Choiseul is to be immediately dismissed.

    Now take a look at those contesting the elections and look at what we have there. Just a few can make any sensible or pertinent injection into any discussion, if at all held, about the merits and demerits of the arguments made by the financial analyst. They know precious little about business, finance, accounting, management and financial management.

    In the under-developed world, which we are stubbornly married to because of the very poor quality of our MPs, buildings and roads alone, in each case, an oasis in a desert of unforced poverty, of everything including ideas, do not constitute development. Human beings and the lower income level members of society do not eat roads nor buildings.

    In the developed world, development is propelled by rapid transfers and flows of investment capital for FDI. Observe the contrast.

    Our repeated slates of extremely limited and backward politicians, even the Chamber of Commerce see FDI as the construction of hotels for the eventual employment of large numbers of hotel maids, gardeners and the like.

    In other words, our politicians are just glorified and REDUNDANT road-patching community development officers.

    Is it not the received wisdom, that representatives MUST be born in the constituency in order to represent it? The SELECTED dictator a la Fidel Castro makes all the decisions and the glorified community development officers are happy to be CABINET stooges and echo-chambers. Yes men.

    We did not need this confirming report at all to know that the “me too” CIP by the SLP was highly flawed. Smart people already know the pattern.

    The irritating secrecy of the SLP that gave us Frenwell, the loss of our patrimony in the lost Black Bay Lands, the questionable constitutional deal with the sale of rights to our seabed in the north of the island, the Ju-FAULTY international and controversial brouhaha and now this CIP are well documented. Red cool aid from the Market Steps can numb and dull the senses. Beware!

    Those with a brain let them take note. Those with eyes let them see.

    When our favoured financial cretins are not raking in losses for this this poor country as in the case of Frenwell for $48 million, Black Bay for $86 million, Grynburg Deal for $150 million with a threat of a Tribunal penalty for $500 million (kept secret) plus legal representation fees, these economic cretins too are burdening the economy with non-developmental NATIONAL debt.

    Dammit! Still some people are seeking to give yet another term in office to continue to saddle this poor country with this dangerous public nuisance party and all its misfits?

  4. I salute you, Dr. Steffen, and I thank you for confirming something both me
    and many others had long realized. I am dead against the whole scheme of
    things the way it was set up. This thing was rushed and set up by a bunch of
    armatures, experimenting on something way above the limits of their little
    training and background they could scrape up. Enough of this, scrap the damn
    thing and perhaps wait till we get better professional advice on this subject.

    For those who read this, we always have the two clowns, SAM and Prophet Dr.
    Optical, two hired guns who is there to shoot down any opposition to their
    little game. St. Lucia have been suffering by the likes of these little men for too long.

  5. u all who believe this dr. who ever the hell he b will change the price of oil by his paid comment
    will think again
    u-all party will b trash come next general election.

  6. When will we stop interpreting everything through our narrow political biases? Here we have the first objective analysis of SLU’s CIP, by an acknowledged expert working with a world-renowned company and some people choose instead to question his motives rather than analyze his opinions. It’s no wonder SLU is where it is. It’s no wonder one of the leading alternative citizenship companies can publicly say it’s staying far from SLU’s CIP and some people couldn’t give a damn.

    Where’s the sour grapes? Henley turned down an offer to act as a marketing agent for SLU’s CIP. Its reasons should concern every St. Lucian. Henley feels our program is not sufficiently transparent. Can any of us deny this? Do we know how our CIP operates? Do we know how marketing agents for the program are chosen? Do we know the track record of those agents that are peddling our country’s passport all over the world to clients as questionable as they are?

    Steffens raises some very valid questions. If our Government really wants the CIP to succeed it would take note of Steffens” comments and make the necessary changes to the Programme. That’s what progressive governments do.

  7. It is very seldom that one, especially when they have a degree of knowledge about a certain subject they are unable to give a vigorous critique on that subject. That doesn’t mean they are right. But where i am standing I could hardly prove they wrong even if they are: I don’t know enough to pass judgement and I wouldn’t far from right to say many of us are in the same position as me. Thus before I can make a call I need to hear what the SLP is saying about these allegations. I would like the SLP to answer these questions as raised by Mr steffen. There may well be plausible reasons for the government’s position for example why it chose the figure of US$300000 as opposed to US$350000 or US$400000.

    I try to view this this not by anything happening in the caribbean itself but something going on between the USA and the EU. It is called TTIP. As far I can gather TTIP is heavily slanted on the side of the US to the extent the terms are so much in favour of the US investors that under them they can easily sue the governments (EU) if anything they do affect their profits. Now would any government agree to these terms and conditions?

    Therefore on the question of CIP as it relates to St Lucia I will reserve judgement until I know why the government took the position it took.

  8. I will not assess Mr. Henley’s thoughts based on excerpts that has been chosen by someone who may or may not have ulterior motives. So, can you provide the full article where this was taken from?

  9. I sometimes feel so sorry and sadden for my Country. Everything is about red and yellow. It is such a shame, and a sad reality.

  10. ……………who is the’ Group Public Relations Coordinator’?……….Juerg , give an interview to an independent journalist,………it is all about credibility!

  11. Checked Henley’s website but could not find the interview. It may be there but I couldn’t find it. M It’s not clear how Steffens came to be giving his opinions on our CIP. The Voice should not leave readers to figure this out for themselves. That’s not good enough. At the same time I found Henleys website to be quite impressive. I await the GOSL’s reaction to Steffens comments. I hope it’s not a knee-jerk reaction.

  12. Reading this article the first question that came to mind was ‘why is this white boy from the other side of the world interested is St. Lucia’s CIP?’ We need find people’s motive when they make certain pronouncements. Who paid this guy? I suspect most commenting know the answer.

  13. Henley & Partners are the marketing agents for Antigua and St Kitt’s Citizenship by investment program. Therefore, they have a vested interest in the success of St Kitts and Antigua’s program. Saint Lucia is seen by them as competitors so in true business fashion, they have resorted to lambasting the Saint Lucian program in the hopes that investors reject it, meaning more potential business for the islands they promote. His opinion seems bias and overly critical and as right thinking individuals, we should be able to sift through the bull****.

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