An­tigua-Bar­buda faces eco­nomic cit­i­zen pass­port flaw

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

In at­tempt­ing to as­sert and/ or de­fend the ap­par­ently false premise that one of its clients is a cit­i­zen of An­tigua and Bar­buda, a prom­i­nent Lon­don law firm may have in­stead opened a prover­bial can of worms for the Caribbean coun­try in re­la­tion to its pass­ports.

Ac­cord­ing to a copy, pro­vided by lawyers CarterRuck, of the diplo­matic pass­port is­sued to their client An­thony Bailey, one of An­tigua and Bar­buda’s “spe­cial eco­nomic en­voys”, the doc­u­ment in­ac­cu­rately states that his na­tion­al­ity is “An­tiguan and Bar­bu­dan”. Bailey is nei­ther a na­tional nor a cit­i­zen of An­tigua and Bar­buda.

Un­der An­tigua and Bar­buda law, na­tion­al­ity is ac­quired only by birth, by de­scent or by nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion, the last of which re­quires seven years con­tin­u­ous res­i­dence, pub­lic ad­ver­tise­ment and no pub­lic ob­jec­tions.

Cit­i­zen­ship, how­ever, may be granted by a coun­try re­gard­less of na­tion­al­ity and, in the case of An­tigua and Bar­buda, is fre­quently granted un­der its cit­i­zen­ship by in­vest­ment pro­gramme, which re­quires a spec­i­fied min­i­mum in­vest­ment in a qual­i­fy­ing prop­erty or busi­ness, or a do­na­tion to the coun­try’s Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Fund.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment records in An­tigua, Bailey has never been granted cit­i­zen­ship, whether by in­vest­ment or oth­er­wise, some­thing that gov­ern­ment chief of staff Lionel Max Hurst also con­firmed.

“To be­come a cit­i­zen of An­tigua and Bar­buda, if you are not birthed here, you must sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion and that ap­pli­ca­tion has to be signed by the prime min­is­ter . . . I cer­tainly know it has not been com­pleted (in the case of the eco­nomic en­voy) be­cause the prime min­is­ter has not signed any ap­pli­ca­tion on his be­half,” Hurst said.

Other gov­ern­ment sources had pre­vi­ously in­di­cated to Caribbean News Now that the rea­son for Bailey’s na­tion­al­ity be­ing in­cor­rectly de­scribed on his pass­port was a fail­ure to set up the pass­port print­ing fa­cil­ity in An­tigua with the op­tion of spec­i­fy­ing a dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­ity and thus the process as­sumes that any­one is­sued an An­tigua and Bar­buda pass­port is a na­tional of that coun­try.

“Our pass­port-is­su­ing ma­chin­ery places ‘An­tiguan and Bar­bu­dan’ in the cit­i­zen­ship col­umn, in the diplo­matic and other pass­ports (of­fi­cial and or­di­nary),” Hurst con­firmed, ap­par­ently con­fus­ing (in com­mon with Carter-Ruck and oth­ers) the dif­fer­ent con­cepts of na­tion­al­ity and cit­i­zen­ship, there be­ing no “cit­i­zen­ship col­umn” in pass­ports but rather a “Na­tion­al­ity” field.

How­ever, as Hurst ac­knowl­edged, as a re­sult of how the coun­try’s pass­port print­ing process is set up, at least 800 eco­nomic cit­i­zens (us­ing the last pub­lished fig­ure) have their na­tion­al­ity shown in their pass­ports as An­tiguan and Bar­bu­dan. This is in­cor­rect; they are cit­i­zens but not na­tion­als. This may have ma­jor in­ter­na­tional travel reper­cus­sions, since all of the pass­ports is­sued to for­eign na­tion­als un­der the coun­try’s cit­i­zen­ship by in­vest­ment pro­gramme must there­fore con­tain sim­i­larly false in­for­ma­tion, and bor­der se­cu­rity of­fi­cials in many visa-free des­ti­na­tion coun­tries are likely to be un­happy that an ar­riv­ing trav­eller’s real na­tion­al­ity is dis­guised in this man­ner.

It is not known at this time whether the other re­gional cit­i­zen­ship by in­vest­ment pro­grammes in Do­minica, Gre­nada and Saint Lu­cia may re­flect a sim­i­lar flaw in the is­sue of their pass­ports.

Gov­ern­ment Chief of Staff Lionel Max Hurst.

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