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DRUG TRAFFICKING LABELLED AS PRIMARY SOURCE OF ILLICIT FUNDS

The United States Department of State is concerned about the expansion of citizenship and investment programmes due to the possibility of local corruption.

Drug trafficking has been labelled as the primary source of illicit funds in Saint Lucia. The pronouncement is due in large measure to the island’s geographic location and porous borders, which increase its risk of drug money laundering.

This disclosure can be found in a March 2019 report of the United States Department of State under the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, International Narcotics Control Strategy Volume II.

According to the report money laundering most commonly occurs through structured deposits and currency exchanges, or cash real estate transactions.

It notes that Saint Lucia identifies jewellery dealers, legal services and non-profit organizations as additional sectors vulnerable to money laundering activity.

Stating that Saint Lucia’s main sources of revenue are tourism and the offshore banking sector and that the island is progressing with its anti-money laundering regime, the report listed the Citizenship by Investment Programme under a sub-headline that states ‘vulnerabilities and money laundering methodologies.’

Claiming that Saint Lucia is generally in technical compliance with international standards the report states that U.S. law enforcement is increasingly concerned about the expansion of citizenship by investment programmes due to the possibility of local corruption and the visa-free travel and ability to open bank accounts accorded these individuals.

According to the report an individual can petition for Saint Lucian citizenship through a minimum donation to the National Economic Fund of U.S. $100,000 per applicant, U.S. $165,000 for an applicant and spouse, or U.S. $190,000 for a family of up to four people. Other citizenship by investment options include a U.S. $300,000 minimum purchase in real estate; a U.S. $3.5 million investment for an individual, or U.S. $6 million for more than one applicant, in an approved enterprise project; or a government bond minimum purchase of U.S. $500,000 for an individual, U.S. $535,000 for an applicant and spouse, or U.S. $550,000 for a family of up to four people.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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