PORT VILA, Vanuatu, Jan. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Republic of Vanuatu has been severely affected by the pandemic and ongoing natural disasters, leaving it with a shrinking growth rate and depleted fiscal balances. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has acknowledged the importance of its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme, noting that the income from the Programme equates to close to 50% of the country’s revenue.
Understanding the importance of the Programme and its impact on the country, the current Government has taken a proactive stance to review and re-evaluate the Programme’s architecture to ensure a robust offering that provides economic growth to the people of Vanuatu and adds security and protection to the international community. With this at the forefront of the Government’s intention, the Citizenship Commission has made great strides to identify the risks of the Programme. This has led the Government to take decisive action by adopting more vigorous due diligence and a streamlined citizenship process.
In line with the nation’s objective, the government has formally finalised the engagement with its first international due diligence service provider, UK agency, FACT UK. The company is the first of several leading global due diligence agencies to be appointed to provide robust due diligence service. The CEO of Fact UK, Kieron Sharp, with vast international experience having been trained by the FBI Academy and also acted as Head of economic crime at Interpol, leads a highly qualified team. The Government welcomes the appointment as the first endeavour to vet CBI applicants thoroughly. FACT UK shall perform extensive checks covering sanctions lists, open-source checks, and on-the-ground assessments. It also leads in IP protection, intelligence, and computer forensics, along with forensic investigation and security verification.
Vanuatu’s due diligence processes will be further enhanced to ensure that only reputable investors can obtain citizenship. Therefore, each investor application will undergo a comprehensive and careful audit to mitigate any security, financial crime, and reputational risks. No resources will be spared in the due diligence exercise to ensure the protection and security of both Vanuatu and the international community.
The Government shall retroactively run full due diligence checks on all CBI applicants granted citizenship in the last six years to ensure that only reputable applicants have been approved. If an economic citizen fails the due diligence check, their citizenship will likely be revoked.
The country will use a multi-layered approach involving several entities, including authorised agents, CBI Units, an independent due diligence firm, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and partner governments. A thorough review of the Programme will be undertaken to re-establish its protocols, bringing the Programme in line with internationally accepted standards. Our newly appointed Marketing Service Provider, CS Global Partners, will assist, guide and advise the Government to redesign the entire CBI offering.
“We are proud of the progressive steps we have taken as a country to strengthen the application and verification process of our CBI Programme. After a lengthy selection process of onboarding strategic partners, we look forward to shaping the Programme to be highly reputable and globally recognised.”
“We take the safety and security of all nations very seriously and will not compromise on security checks of applicants looking to gain citizenship in Vanuatu. Our efforts in increasing capabilities in this area are testament to our respect for international relations.”
The country has been doing extensive work with international partners to ensure that it can compete successfully in the global market. Vanuatu’s Parliament recently passed its first Cybercrime Act, following technical assistance received in 2018 from the Council of Europe via its Global Action on Cybercrime Extended (GLACY+) project, which aims to harmonise the country’s national legislation with international standards in the field.
Vanuatu has a long-standing relationship with the Council of Europe, having participated since 2011 in some fifteen regional, international, and national capacity building activities.