The Passport Business

June 29, 2017 Crime , North America , OPINION/NEWS

By

Ricardo Swire

 

Achievement of the CARICOM Community’s security integrity is further complicated by some zealous island governments’ ongoing practice of Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs).

Yet again this self-inflicted national security breach was showcased in an international incident. The Department of Immigration, Citizenship & Refugees Canada’s recent action showed Eastern Caribbean CIP issued passports connected to Iranians in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) pursues a criminal investigation of entangled international companies that routinely recruit CIP clients for Caribbean members Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis.

The businesses, acting as agents for Dominica, issued the island’s CIP passports to questionable Iranians in Canada. In January 2014 the Twin Island Federation sold several CIP passports to Iranians. On May 20, 2014 America’s Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), circulated an advisory informing of “illicit actors” using St Kitts & Nevis CIP purchased passports to hide and avoid US sanctions. Three specific Iranian St Kitts & Nevis CIP passport holders are subjects of a US Treasury Department terrorism and economic sanctions evasion investigation, one of them listed on America’s Watch List.

From January 2015 to January 2016 Dominica banked US$124 million CIP cash, monies dispersed as a special credit then, according to Dominica’s Finance Control Management Act, lodged to the Consolidated Account. In the ongoing RCMP pursuit Iranian Dominica CIP passport holders, who committed fraud and grand theft in Iran, used the official travel documents to enter Canada. In 2015 the former Nigerian Oil Minister, a fraud and money laundering suspect in the United Kingdom carried a Dominican diplomatic Passport.

In another episode a Dominican government appointed Food & Agriculture Organization representative to Rome, issued a CIP diplomatic passport, was listed on INTERPOL’s most wanted list. Additionally, an international racketeering and money laundering criminal suspect and another foreign individual jailed for fraud both appointed Dominican ambassadors with CIP diplomatic passports. Dominica’s former ranking diplomat at the United Nations Mission in New York was accused of stealing more than US$4 million worth of brokerage commissions from an associated real estate Company.

Passport power is measured by the amount of countries its holder can enter without a visa. The Dominican passport allows entry to more than one hundred and eighteen visa free destinations. An Iranian passport only allows the bearer similar access to thirty-seven countries. On the Visa Restriction Index Iran shares ninety-eighth place with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon and Libya. Globally, the most powerful passports are issued by Finland, Germany, United Kingdom and United States. Holders access one hundred and seventy-four countries without a visa.

In 1979 several Iranian business elites migrated after the Shah was dethroned. Today approximately five million expatriate Iranians reside in America, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Approximately five hundred thousand live in the US, while London accommodates an Iranian community of more than eighty thousand, an estimated one hundred and twenty thousand Iranians living in Germany. Collectively Iranian Diasporas control US$1.5 trillion offshore, an estimated US$400 billion invested in America, China and Europe, while US$200 billion capitalized in Dubai.

Over a seven month period two seismic occurrences transformed Iran’s financial landscape. In July 2015 the UN Security Council gave Iran permission to continue its nuclear energy program. In January 2016 Western sanctions against Iran ended. As a result the country’s frozen assets valued US$70 billion became available. Iran is home to an estimated thirty-two thousand high-net worth nationals. Sixty-five of the wealthy Iranians each value more than US$100 million, our nationals billionaires.

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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