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Investment Minister says St. Lucia should be left out of lawsuit between SKN officials, Caribbean Galaxy & MSR

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN: Hon. Dr Ernest Hilaire, St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, says St. Lucis should not be included in the US-filed RICO lawsuit by MSR Media. In a June 12, 2024 statement, the Minister said the issue should remain between St. Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean Galaxy and MSR Media.

“I’m informed that in 2022, Phillipe Martinez and MSR Media obtained a license for a CIP project under the alternative investment option in St. Kitts and Nevis. In November 2023, Mr Martinez wrote to one of his competitors, Caribbean Galaxy, Les Khan, CEO, and also the former Prime Minister, Dr Timothy Harris, and others, claiming alleged fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.

“His contention was that Caribbean Galaxy was selling citizenship at a fraction of the rate by underpricing its shares in its project. His contention was this has caused him loss and he was entitled to financial damages. The formation proceedings were filed against Martinez and MSR Media by Galaxy and also by Dr Timothy Harris.

“Caribbean Galaxy has a project in St. Lucia, and as such, Mr Martinez has sought to include St. Lucia in his claims. St. Lucia’s position was that this is a matter between St. Kitts, Caribbean Galaxy, and Mr Martinez, and we did not want to get involved. Mr Martinez’s response was that he had evidence of Galaxy’s wrongdoing and invited the Prime Minister and myself to Washington to examine the evidence.

“Again, our position was clear. We were not going to be drawn into Martinez’s conflict with the government and people of St. Kitts and Galaxy. Our position remains. We do not want to get involved in this matter, and Mr Martinez should seek to resolve his dispute in the court of law. The response of Mr Martinez was to file a recall civil lawsuit, which includes two former Prime Ministers of St. Kitts, Caribbean Galaxy, and Mc Claude Emanuel, CEO of St. Lucia’s CIP as defendants. In the lawsuit, he claims that Mr Emanuel is aware of the alleged scam and has failed to stop it.

“We have instructed our lawyers to take all necessary action in the U.S. courts to remove Mr Emanuel’s name from this filing as this is not related to St. Lucia, nor Mr Emanuel, and is clearly malicious. It is instructed that Mr Martinez has included the names of the two former Prime Ministers of St. Kitts but did not include the name of Allen Chastanet, who brought Galaxy to St. Lucia and under whose government Galaxy started selling shares.”

The Minister clarified that the former administration was responsible for bringing the real estate developer Caribbean Galaxy to St. Lucia. However, it’s important to note that former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet was not named in the lawsuit.

“It is concerning that the United Workers’ Party, and in particular the leader of the opposition, Mr Allen Chastanet, has aligned himself with this individual, who has clearly embarked on a quest to destroy St. Lucia and the CIP, our visa-free arrangements, and corresponding banking relationships by making false, baseless, malicious, and scandalous accusations of fraud and corruption in the CIP in St. Lucia, where there is none.”

Hilaire assured the people of St. Lucia that he would be vindicated as he has fought such claims before but concluded by urging St. Lucians to stand by their country against such claims that stand a chance to degrade not just an economic driver for the country but could degrade in the travel strength of the country’s passport.

The RICO suit, which names several SKN and St. Lucia officials as defendants, including real estate developers and other Citizenship By Investment stakeholders, suggests MSR Media’s concerns regarding alleged misconduct within Galaxy, the previous government of St. Kitts & Nevis, and the current CIU in St. Lucia concerning underselling and fraud in the CBI programs went unheard.

The primary allegation names Caribbean Galaxy as receiving ‘kickbacks’ from a due diligence provider associated with the controversial prison project in St. Kitts. MSR and Phillipe Martinez claim to have evidence indicating that fees paid to the due diligence firm were redirected back to Ying Jin of Caribbean Galaxy, raising questions about the vetting procedures and potential security risks.

The defendants named in the lawsuit have all come out and said the allegations have no standing and that they will be vindicated in a court of law.

Transparency changes were made, led by St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, to the programs of the OECS countries in March 2024; St. Lucia was the last to join the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on June 03, 2024. However, concerns remain surrounding the effect this lawsuit will have on the regional programs.

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