by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley has the country on standby, hinting at possible bombshell revelations that he intends to bring to the fore, bit by bit.
During his “On the Mark” Talk Show on Wednesday night, November 15, 2023, Premier Brantley alleged that the difficulties with the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship By Investment Programme stem from the St. Kitts Prison Project that is currently under construction.
“Service provider after service provider, expert after expert that I engage with, all traced the difficulties that our programme is having back to this jail project that was approved and signed off on by Timothy Harris, Prime Minister Timothy Harris, as he then was.”
“I make the point that- that jail project appears to be the basic touchstone for a lot of the difficulties that we are now experiencing. I am not going to get into too much more tonight, but I learned quite a bit when I was there of some of the things that were going on in relation to that particular project and how the Government then, at the highest levels, allowed massive underselling of the CBI Programme. The passports were being sold like sugar; I wouldn’t say black pudding because black pudding [is] more expensive than sugar cake. It was giving developers four and five thousand units to sell, and the reason for giving them so many units is because they knew that these people were not selling the units at the legal and lawfully provided price. That’s what was going on. So, a project that should get 500 units to be sold at US $250,000; I am just drawing a reference. That project ended up asking for five and six thousand units because they know they were selling them for five and six thousand dollars. That is really what happened, and that is what led to the problems.”
The former Government, according to Brantley, possessed a ‘don’t care’ attitude whilst selling the St. Kitts Nevis passports or units for much less than their lawful value under the Programme.
“The attitude of the then Government was “We don’t care. We don’t care how much they’re being sold for because the Government [is] getting their own due diligence fees, the same registration fees. So the Government is getting its pound of flesh, so we don’t care. In fact, it was said in the Cabinet that these matters of underselling are private between vendor and purchaser. That’s what was said, and I would get into who said it, but that is what was said, “These are private matters between vendor and purchaser, and I remember because I kept challenging it, and I asked the question, “So are you saying to me therefore that if a man decided he would sell cocaine in the privacy of his bedroom that that is a private matter and the police can’t intervene?” I was told, “oh that’s different.” “How is it different? I don’t know because the law was very clear that this is the price. This is the level of investment.”
Premier Brantley, a Minister of Cabinet under the former Team Unity Administration, denied knowing anything about the Prison Project before it was made public.
“Sometimes, I hear all the sound and fury, and I say, “You know what, why don’t all of us take a step back;” and I am not here tonight trying to absolve myself because I was apart of the Government that approved the jail; albeit I didn’t know anything about the jail and I was as shocked as the members of the public because, as I’ve explained to the public as if there was a few Cabinets in the Unity Administration. There was an inner Cabinet; those who were on the inside knowing what was going on, and then couple of us was out in the yard. Well, I was out in the yard.”
At the People’s Labour Party Press Conference on October 26, 2023, the party’s leader and former Prime Minister, Dr Timothy Harris, accused the Terrance Drew-led Administration for lack of transparency relating to the CBI Programme. However, Dr Harris, then Minister responsible for the CBI Programme, also came under heavy fire from the populace for his failure to be transparent with highly requested CBI information during his tenure.
Recent reports regarding the CBI Programme indicate that all is not well. There is much cause for concern. Our CBI Programme has been in peril by the ill-advised operations of the incoming administration. They didn’t take [the] time to study and understand the Programme. They came in- in the last shower of rain- hurry, hurry, and they don’t know what they are doing. Today, a dark cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Programme, and this Government has not been transparent.”
The Premier of Nevis issued a public advice to Dr. Timothy Harris, imploring him to desist from speaking about the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Programme.
“I was Foreign Minister of this country for seven years, sat in a government for seven years. I believe that the former leader of St. Kitts and Nevis, the man who headed my Government and Cabinet, needs to sit down and hush his mouth about CBI. That would be my gentle and humble advice. “Go sit down and hush you mouth about Citizenship by Investment. Talk about other things, but leave that one alone because I am telling you, some information is going to come to the light, and it’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be pleasant, so I am saying respectfully, “Go sit down on that. Take it easy. Talk about other things, but leave that one alone because too many problems were created in that Programme (CBI).”
The St. Kitts Prison Project and the CBI Programme both have questions and uncertainties hanging over them, yet to be disclosed.
Members of the local press have made attempts to meet with the CEO of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme but to no avail. The Prime Minister, Dr Terrance Drew, as Minister responsible for CBI, has encouraged the media to write to the Citizenship By Investment Unit for the requested CBI Information.