By Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Mark Brantley is commenting on the resignation of the President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, following allegations that surfaced about him holding citizenship for St. Kitts and Nevis.
“I don’t have much I can say about the Armenian President. That story still seems a bit murky. Nothing has come to us formally in relation to that…,” Brantley said.
He continued: “If it is that he saw value in the St. Kitts and Nevis passport then it means that even in Armenia people are clamoring to get a St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship. That is perhaps a good thing.”
Repeated calls to the CBI Unit for a comment on the matter by its Chief Executive Officer Les Kahn, were successful.
The Investment Migration Insider, in an article on Tuesday, January 25, reported that Sarkissian resigned from his post on Sunday, a position he held for four years. In a recorded video message posted on the President’s official website, Sarkissian offered a diffuse explanation for his departure:
“At this difficult time for our nation, when national unity is needed, the institution of the president should not be the object of gossip and conspiracy theories, thereby diverting public attention from the most important issues,” Sarkissian stated in his video.
Armenian investigative publication Hetq Online, however, which has been in direct contact with Sarkissian, claims the actual notice behind the ex-president’s decision was that he was a dual citizen at the time of becoming President and that this had come to light. Armenia’s constitution prohibits individuals who have held citizenships other than the Armenian for the preceding six years from occupying the office of the President. Sarkissian’s entire Presidency, therefore, has in effect been illegitimate, the article read.
Hetq, which had obtained details of Sarkissian’s Kittitian passport, contacted the ex-president to ask for an explanation:
Sarkissian said he had investments in St. Kitts and Nevis. According to our correspondence with Armen Sarkissian, he had a share in one of the hotels in St. Kitts and Nevis transferred on to one of his family members before he became ambassador of Armenia to the UK in 2013.
St. Kitts has a program CBI whereby people can be granted citizenship in return for making investment. Sarkissian claimed that he thus became a citizen without his knowledge. “…the investment was the driving factor, I was not interested in the passport at all,” he told Hetq.
The President further told Hetq that, upon receiving the passport, he had written to the CBI service provider, asking that his citizenship be “put on hold” and that, prior to his appointment as Ambassador of Armenia to the UK, he had instructed his solicitor to “return his passport to St. Kitts and Nevis”. Four years later, shortly before becoming President, Sarkissian claims he discovered that his instructions to “return the passport” had not been followed because the person charged with the task – a senior executive with the CBI firm he had employed – had since died.
Sarkissian appears uncertain as to whether he is still a Kittitian:
Sarkissian told us that he believed that he was no longer a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis from the moment he requested to put his citizenship on hold after he received it in return for investments, the article further stated.