Antigua St. John’s – Concerns have been raised about the Antigua-Barbuda government’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) after an Iranian man was stopped in Canada with a St Kitts and Nevis passport.

 Alireza Moghadhan tried to enter Canada on a diplomatic passport, which he told Canadian officials he bought for $1 M.

The Canadian government sent a representative to discuss the matter with St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas.

The government of Canada threatened to discontinue its visa free access to St Kitts and Nevis nationals if its borders were penetrated by persons of “dubious character carrying St Kitts and Nevis passports”.

The Canadian government insisted that the St Kitts and Nevis government stop allowing citizens from Afghanistan and Iran to take part in the CIP.

Reports are that the Douglas-led government has grown the federation’s economy through the programme.

Speaking to Antigua & Barbuda’s attorney general, Justin Simon QC, about whether the government is concerned about a similar occurrence once it starts to issue passports via the CIP, Simon said the Citizenship Investment Unit (CIU) has not opened its doors to all people who wish to apply for Antigua & Barbuda passports.

Simon said there are in fact nationals of certain countries whose applications, if they are received, would be seriously scrutinised and vetted for obvious security reasons.

He said approval would be favourable once Antigua has an excellent relationship with a country which gives its nationals entry preference.

“We are conscious of the risks, and are developing internationally accepted due diligence processes with reputable overseas due diligence providers to assess and comprehensively advise our CIU on all applicants,” Simon said.

He said, “Our local agents have additionally been informed of countries in respect of which an affirmative government policy position is yet to be given. Consultation with our international partners is key and will be an ongoing evolving process.”

The attorney general said the government is excited about the potential for real estate development in the tourism sector.

This, he said, will always be weighed against the risk of travel restrictions to Antigua & Barbuda’s nationals.

Simon’s statement came as he, along with Tourism Minister John Maginley and the CIU CEO, are attending a two-day Global Residence & Citizenship Conference in Miami hosted by Henley & Partners, a leading world stakeholder in citizenship by investment programmes in Malta, Switzerland, and Cyprus.

The conference opened yesterday and concludes today.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Douglas issued a press release saying that citizens of Iran and Afghanistan were no longer eligible for passports under the CIP.

Moghadhan had allegedly indicated to Canadian officials that he intended to seek an audience with the prime minister of that country.

Allegations, however, are that the Iranian breached all protocols that must be followed by foreign officials entering Canada on official business with the prime minister.

“He had no appointment. He was an unknown. He could not state the nature of his diplomatic engagements. Without a St Kitts & Nevis passport Moghadhan would have had difficulties in getting access to Canada,” the news article posted on November 19 said.

The report went on to quote Dr Timothy Harris, leader of the opposition Team UNITY in St Kitts, as saying, “Serious damage has been done to the image and reputation of St Kitts & Nevis…”

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