Following a damning report on Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program, paid articles have started appearing in international publications defending the program and its positive impact on the island. An article on Dominica’s CBI has appeared in Mint, which described itself as an “award-winning business publication from India,” as well as Hindustan Times, a daily English newspaper based in Delhi, also in India.
Under the articles in both publications, there is a disclaimer that reads, “This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s), etc., stated/featured in the same.”
It is unknown who paid for the articles in both publications and the government of Dominica has remained silent on the matter.
The Hindustan Times focused on the international airport which is now under construction here on the island, saying that it is funded primarily by the island’s CBI program.
“The international airport is poised to be Dominica’s primary global gateway, with funding primarily sourced from the Dominica Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program,” the article reads. “This transformative airport project presents investors with a unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in its construction.”
The articles noted that the $1-billion airport is slated for completion by 2025 and “stands as a beacon of progress for the island nation.”
“It will also have the capacity to welcome long-haul flights and will play a pivotal role in making Dominica more accessible to the world,” the article said. “The international airport project signifies the country’s dedication to progress and prosperity. As construction kicks off, Dominica eagerly anticipates the positive transformations that will follow, solidifying its reputation as a top-notch tourism destination in the Caribbean.”
The article praised Dominica’s CBI program saying Dominica owes much of its success to the program.
“Dominica’s CBI Program plays a pivotal role in funding diverse development initiatives on the island, spanning sectors from housing to education,” the article stated. “With one of the Caribbean region’s fastest-growing economies, Dominica owes much of its success to the highly regarded CBI Program. This program enables carefully vetted investors and their families to participate by contributing to a government fund or investing in pre-approved real estate on the island in exchange for citizenship.”
It described the island’s program as having a “stellar reputation” which it said “is largely due to its rigorous due diligence process and thorough evaluation of potential investors, ensuring that only trustworthy and credible applicants are accepted.”
The article in Mint is entitled, “Dominica’s Women: Breaking Barriers and Achieving Greatness” and focused first on the newly elected president of Dominica, Sylvanie Burton and later on Marie Therese Johnson, which it said is “the newly appointed head of Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Unit.”
“The Citizenship by Investment program of Dominica is one of the most respected and coveted programs in the world,” the article reads. “That is probably why Marie Therese Johnson has been chosen to lead it, following a very successful stint as the General Manager of the AID Bank. As the General Manager of a large financial institution, her responsibilities included strategically guiding the Board of Directors, establishing a robust risk-compliance system, governance framework management, and heading daily
According to the article by Burton and Johnson, “Dominica has now set an example for the world to follow.”
“That is an example of an egalitarian state where men and women have the right to opportunity, and women can shine in their preferred fields,” it said.
Despite the glowing reviews given by both articles on Dominica’s CBI program, the investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in conjunction with 15 international media entities, paints a different picture. Investigators were able to obtain the names of roughly 7,700 people who have purchased Dominica passports in recent years. Many of these people reportedly had “dark pasts” and included a former spymaster in Afghanistan who was accused of human rights violations, a convicted millionaire and former Libyan colonel, and a former nuclear scientist for Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
The investigation also revealed that nearly a dozen people fled their countries over criminal charges and convictions after buying Dominican citizenship. This is despite the fact that the government in Dominica has been constantly saying that the island’s CBI program has a vetting system that “is multi-layered and handled by top-rated due diligence agencies based in the U.K. and the USA.”
“Dominica has taken the lead in this region in seeking regional coordination on the various [citizenship-by-investment] programs and in discussing ways to safeguard all of these programs,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit once said.
But a report from the investigation pointed out that experts say, “passports such as those sold by Dominica can be an attractive prospect for fugitives looking to set themselves up in jurisdictions beyond the reach of authorities back home.”
“If you’re a government official embezzling public funds or a businessperson making dodgy deals, chances are you’re worried about future prosecution,” Eka Rostomashvili of Transparency International was quoted as saying.
“When the going gets tough, a golden passport in your back pocket allows you to skip town. New citizenship — and potentially a new identity — comes in handy if you want to evade law enforcement and prosecution efforts.”
Links below lead to both articles.