A total of 13 countries were examined in this year’s study, carried out by independent researcher James McKay: Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Jordan, Malta, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Turkey, and Vanuatu. Overall, the central industry trends of transparency, experience, and enhanced security saw the Caribbeannations carry their success from past years into 2019, outperforming their peers in five out of seven pillars.
Dominica emerged once more as the country with the world’s best citizenship by investment programme, combining extensive due diligence with efficiency, speed, affordability, and reliability. St Kitts and Nevis maintained its upward trajectory regarding visa-free and visa-on-arrival offering and demonstrated its commitment to enhanced due diligence. Grenada also increased emphasis on programme due diligence but benefited most from its improved citizenship timeline. St Lucia surpassed Antigua and Barbuda for the first time, the southern island improving its scores under freedom of movement, citizenship timeline and due diligence.
Demand for Caribbean citizenship continues to grow, as high net worth individuals’ needs are shifting. “A lot of Middle Easterners don’t want to come to the US, just as Europeans don’t want to come to the UK anymore because of Brexit,” according to the CEO of a major global private bank. Some critics imply that CBI applicants are largely migrating individuals who have broken strict exchange controls at home, but the private banker explains that most clients from politically volatile jurisdictions such as those in the Middle East and Africa are seeking CBI as a plan C or D in case of an “escalation of insecurity or an outright war.”
PWM Editor Yuri Bender says that “wealthy individuals and their families seek second citizenship for a number of reasons, while the benefits for nations offering CBI schemes can be considerable.” Indeed, from the host country’s perspective, transparency and accountability of CBI funds took centre stage this year. The 2019 CBI Index notes that the countries that demonstrated how native citizens are benefitting from CBI receipts inspired more trust and appeal among investors.
In 2019, the CBI Index also provided a platform for tax and legal experts to discuss the distinction between citizenship and the duty to pay tax. Specialists from Ernst & Young, Smith and Williamson, and Queen’s Counsel Balraj Bhatiaunanimously agreed that citizenship and residency confer different sets of rights and obligations on individuals. FACT Due Diligence CEO, Kieron Sharp, details why “thorough due diligence is the cornerstone of the citizenship by investment industry,” beyond the obvious reputational and security implications.
The full 2019 CBI Index report is now available for free download on www.cbiindex.com .