Abuse of Hurricane Fund will be investigated; Opposition leader says 4,000 passports in 6 months puts pressure on CIP

Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas

Basseterre, St. Kitts, – Former prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Tuesday investigations will be carried out into any abuse of monies channelled into the recently announced Hurricane Relief Fund option as part of the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Responding to public concerns that the Fund introduced as an option under the Citizenship by Investment Programme to raise  funds to cover EC$150 million in hurricane damage, former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition  the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas agreed with callers that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should have oversight.

Dr. Douglas said Statutory Rules & Regulations No. 14 of 2017 signed by Prime Minister Harris on October 2nd 2017 to bring the Fund into operation has the potential for abuse.

He challenged persons appointed by Harris not to become involved in any illegal activity.

“All three are under the control of the prime minister and I want to send out a challenge to all who are public servants. You have your professionalism to take care of. I can say to you categorically that this is a matter that will come up for investigation at the right time. You have to do what is right and proper not only in your sight, but also in the sight of God. You must not in any way be accomplices to Dr. Harris as he tries to do what he feels like doing with peoples monies. That is not going to be accepted and at the right time, this Fund is going to come up for investigation,” warned Dr. Douglas, in response to questions and comments during his weekly radio programme “Ask the Leader” on Kyss 102.5 FM.

He also had a word of advice to the present board members of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) who are managers of the SIDF funds.

“Despite all that was said about Mr. Terrance Crossman (former SIDF chairman); he has conducted the affairs of the SIDF in a most professional way. He had integrity and he demonstrated it. Those who are now in charge I am saying now that you better be professional in your conduct in the management or putting policies in place for the SIDF because it will be investigated. I am not threatening, I am not making any threat to anyone because that is not my style, but this is a controversial matter and it will come up for investigation at the right time,” said Dr. Douglas.

“What has happened to the nearly EC$800 million that the Labour administration left in the Treasury? What has happened to it? What has happened to the SIDF funds?” asked the former prime minister and minister of finance.

“These are questions that continue to be raised. People are concerned. The general public is alerted that something is wrong here,” said Dr. Douglas, who pointed out that under the new regulations establishing the fund up to 4,000 individuals can be granted St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship in six months.

“Dr. Harris is committing the issuance of 4000 passports within 30, 60 and 90 days. There is going to be administrative pressure in several quarters. No matter how efficient the due diligence system is, he is going to invite undesirables into the application system. The risk is even higher,” pointed out Dr. Douglas, adding: That is issuing 44 citizenship applications per day (including Saturdays and Sundays). It is almost like the prime minister has nothing else to do but just sit in front of a pile of paper just signing citizenship certificates,” said Dr. Douglas.