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All right, good morning, good evening, depending on where you are, welcome to HTJ tax. We do these live streams every week where we talk about taxation, Residency, and Citizenship. If you wanna see what’s coming up next, have a look at HTJ.tax/events. Today, we have the privilege of two very distinguished and qualified professionals from St. Lucia who will talk to us about all things St. Lucia. We’re also gonna have some giveaways. So for those who may be seeing this, if you comment below, in whichever platform you’re gonna be looking at us, just comment ticket because we have our in-person conference in at the end of January in Portugal. So if you wanna attend, please let us know. But all the details are on HTJ.tax/events.
Now, we are gonna be mentioning some things about the world of taxation as qualified professionals. You know how it goes. Nothing we say here should be construed as advice. We’re gonna have a general conversation about general principles. If it is that you need counsel about your specific situation, you need to engage a professional that’s qualified in the jurisdictions in which you’re exposed, and that’d be the only person who could give you advice. So we are not giving tax advice. We have what we are hoping that you walk away with are some key ideas and principles that you want to take to your preferred advisors. So, without any further, do I introduce you to Jeffrey and Keith? Hi guys, would you like to introduce yourselves?
Thanks a lot for that Derren, and thanks for the privilege of being part of this event today. You know, Derren and I have known each other for a long time, Al at the distance. He visited us quite a number of years ago when I had less gray hair than I actually do now. And it’s been nice to, to sort of see you, you know, the beauty of the virtual space is seeing people’s progression and their trajectory over the years. And it’s been nice to see, to see the movement of your profession and how you’ve developed that, you know, kudos to you for what you’ve done.
And, that was what really prompted us to reach out to and to engage him and see how we can collaborate on creating a space for discussion. Bearing in mind, you know, the position that St. Lucia now sits in globally and, and how we’ve been able to, to take advantage of a lot of things St. Lucia to, and the government has, has provided a sort of a legislative background and underpinning that has allowed us to attract foreign direct investment, particularly by extending economic Citizenship.
So just by way of introduction on ourselves and our law firm, I’m the managing partner of a law firm in St. Lucia called SBU and Thomas, we’re one of the biggest and, and, and most experienced and oldest law firms in St. Lucia. We have a very diverse practice, and mainly in the space of banking and finance, civil litigation, and so forth. So, so, so we consider ourselves a one-stop shop, anything civil conveyance and property and so forth.
And, you know, last few years we saw an opportunity for us, to enter into the CBI space when St. Lucia launched in 20 15, 20 16. And since then, we were one of the first to obtain a license and have been in the space for quite a while. We have some really solid promoters that we work alongside with all, all corners of the world offering and, and successfully assisting clients, from every part of the world, from the US to China and everything in between. So in a nutshell, that’s who we are. Here with me is, is our colleague, is my colleague, Keith is the Chief Operations Officer of our dedicated CBI firm, Polaris. So I’ll hand you over to Keith to give you an introduction.
Keith, you’re on mute. You just need to unmute yourself. Well, no, well, okay. Seems to be some sort of technical difficulty, Keith. So here on Zoom, I can see that your mic is on but for some reason, we’re not hearing you. That’s strange. Did you change the mic? Okay. Right.
Is this better?
Yes. Now we can hear
So again, I was just saying good morning or good evening or good night to everyone who’s listening. As Jeffrey indicated, I am an attorney in St. Lucia at the firm, but primarily I am the Chief operating officer of our Citizenship by investment entity. So I’ve personally dealt it for our firm.
We’ve dealt with over a hundred clients actually over the last few years or so, from all around the world, from places as close to us as the US and places as unexpected as Mongolia. So we have a very rich history of Citizenship by investment. We understand the program regionally and we understand, you know, what client’s needs are, how it relates to taxation, and really what the benefits of each, the unique profiles which we have.
And there’s several and things are constantly changing, particularly with Covid and you know, the one Ukraine, the expected recession. It’s a really beautiful and interesting world out there when it comes to Citizenship and how it plays in if taxation, visa free travel, portfolio management. So that’s really what myself and our team do at Polaris. And we, of course, as Jeffrey said, we have the law firm which can assist in any civil matter. So we really are full service law firm in St Lucia.
Fantastic, thanks for that introduction. So I know that you, you made the point that you, you especially careful to mention that you guys are licensed. Both of you mentioned that. And yeah, as my perception as an outsider is that things could be, it’s sometimes like wild West, you know, in, in terms of there be not much of a regulatory framework. What advantage is there for someone using someone who is licensed by the government of solution as opposed to just some random influencer that you saw in TikTok?
Well, what I would say is credibility, expertise and security. You know, we’re a license, which means that there’s a, there is a rigorous process for selection of agents. We do have to renew our license every year. Your performance is reviewed annually. If you’re performing Paul or the A complaints about you, you’ll know about it because it’s a lot of money involved. And it’s important that we’re agents of the country.
So our performance reflects directly on the country. So there’s a large impetus on us to provide the highest quality of service. And we are regulated now in the CBI space, generally one of the issues is there’s really not much reputation at all. So I can just say, Hey, I’m selling Citizenship, just sit in Singapore, have never done this in my life. Try to charge you some money to put some documents together to then try to submit it through an agent or directly to the government.
What you find about all these people who are fly by night, you have many firms which are either blatantly unfortunate taking people’s money truly for, because they have good marketing but no expertise. And for them it’s, Hey, let’s just take funds. Or you left in a position where you, maybe you did get Citizenship, but that firm, which you worked with that fly by night, one day shop, so to speak, by next year that film is gone. So you have Citizenship, but you have no link to the island, you have no real ideas what the benefits are, you have no idea what are the next steps, you know, so what I think you get, particularly from a licensed agent, which is on the ground, as well as like I said, expertise, credibility, but also that long term family on the ground, so to speak.
We’ve been in St. Lucia as a firm for six years. I’m hoping that we can stay here for a lot longer. So once you’re done, you continue to have that support. If you need tax plan, if you need, I have clients like, can you apply for an American Visa for us? So do you know how to get a UAE visa? That sort of thing. You have that support because we’re here and we’re here to assist you. You know, we’re not just marketing saying, Hey, take 147 countries visa-free and enjoy the beach. You know, it’s a lot more sophisticated than that.
So it’s always important I think to definitely if you’re not gonna go, if an authorized agent directly, definitely at least an authorized promoter because these people are again regulated.
Yeah, there’s one other thing I would like to add to that. Derren, when we talk about the regulatory framework and you know, sort of the legislation that underpins the CBI offerings in St. Lucia, you know, that that is something that our government current and past recognizes the value of that. You know, Keith and I always have the conversation internally about, you know, when we see clients and vet them ourselves and we’re like, do we want this person to be a citizen on, on, on, on our, in our space?
And, and, and really that is the litmus test because we recognize as, as first of all, as agents, secondly as citizens and, and the government does undertakes a similar process, at the end of the day, we have to sell something and promote something that will yield returns decade upon decade and upon decade. And the only way you’re gonna do that is to have a proper solid compliance and regulatory underpinning. At the end of the day, it makes no sense to make a packet of money if it is that you have citizens who ought not to be citizens because you remember, it’s by choice.
You know, when, when somebody, when somebody gets their Citizenship by Investment, that is not really by choice. You are making a positive choice to accept somebody within and embrace them in your country. So that is, they recognize a serious obligation and duty. I mean, there are reports to the table in Parliament every year, and it’s something that is, that is really, really scrutinized. The due diligence processes are very rigorous. And, and that’s why we tell our clients, look, it may be a little more expensive in some of the instances, but remember it’s like either buying a CAIO or knocking a CAIO or buying a Rolex or you know, it, it, it, it, you want something that will hold its value and keep its value.
And we’ve seen that with some of the other global offerings by when they’ve cut the corners, how, you know, the Investors have paid the price that there’s one example that comes to mind. So that is something that we recognize. As I said, the successive governments from 2015 when 2016 when launched a program. Up until now, if we cut the corners, we’re all going to pay the price.
Great points, great points. And for those just joining us, we do this every week, have a look at the HTJ.tax/events. You’ll have the opportunity to meet Jeffrey and Keith in person when we have our in-person event conference in Portugal at the end of January 2023 Nomad Offshore Summit. So going back to the idea or to the principle of looking for promoters or firms that are not just reputable but are fully licensed.
And, and this is another thing that kinda gets to me when I look online and people don’t even know how to pronounce the island, you know, they, they’re saying all sorts of variations. So same Lucia for those who doesn’t know how it’s pronounced. So Sin Lucia is one of five territories or five jurisdictions in, the Caribbean, which offers Citizenship by investment. How does, generally speaking, I know this could be a really incredible segue into hours and hours in discussion, but generally speaking, how does the St Lucia offering differ from the other four?
So what I would say is generally the processes are very similar in that we’re all part of the organization in Eastern Caribbean states. We all have similar mandates and similar needs. What I would say is, say in regard to benefits, at least I would say that our program is tailored to a different type of Investors, so to speak, that maybe for example do so St. Lucia, we found that a lot of our clients are geared towards at some point potentially retiring St.
Lucia or using St. Lucia as a second base, so to speak. In that St Lucia of the offered islands, we’re probably the most get towards foreigner investment. And because of that, we’ve really seen in the last few years massive improvements to infrastructure on the island. So for Nomads and people who just want a place that’s not in a big city, but where they can work and they can also enjoy, which has good access to Europe, which has good access to the US Canada, St. Lucia seems to be really popular for them. And I think that’s really what we’ve gotten from a lot of our clients. In regard to price, I think for single person, St. Lucia is one of the cheaper options. So I think probably until maybe a few weeks ago, St Lucia is definitely the cheapest for single people across the board. So we had a, we particularly during the rise of crypto so to speak, and the heights of Covid, we had a lot of young covid millionaires, particularly from China, particularly from the US as well, getting Citizenship, lots of persons in their mid, sometimes even early twenties.
So as people who had still at university actually just single people who thought that, hey, at some point this is gonna be beneficial to me. I won this to travel. So I think that’s really where we differentiate ourselves and also our reputation. So because St. Lucia is the youngest program, we have the benefits of seeing where other programs may have stumbled overtime where they have had growing pains and we’ve been able to more or less account for these things before they happen.
And I think because of that, we’ve not really had any scandals, so to speak, as of right now. And cause we also have fewer economic citizens, people see some benefit to that. We don’t have 10,000 citizens by investment, at least not yet, you know, so it’s still somewhat of a niche, which people tend to like, for whatever reason, you know, you don’t, there’s not that benefit of, hey, someone got to 1980 and my dad got it and my cousin has it, so now I have it.
But there’s this sort of, it’s new, it’s young, it’s fresh, it’s trying to move with the world as it is today. And I think that’s really a benefit that, and we try to remain flexible, remain dynamic, and to continue to grow and improve with the times. I think that stands out.
Fantastic. Thanks for sharing that. And again, for those who are just joining us, HTJ.tax/events for details on our future live streams as well as our in-person Nomad Offshore Summit at the end of January next year. And if you message us through the website and say, St. Lucia, you’ll get a chance to win a free ticket to attend the event in Portugal at the end of January. So you mentioned Keith, that it is quite a rigorous process. So from inception to now, just ballpark how many people you think of taking advantage of Citizenship by investment, and typically how does someone qualify us? So what is the profile, you mentioned crypto, but like what are the qualifications that look, that are the government unit is looking for in that ideal citizen?
So in terms of numbers, I would say as of right now, probably anywhere from 2,500 to 3000 I think around that ballpark so far in regard to the ideal citizen. So the base qualifications, I think they want to ensure that as many people as possible have an opportunity to apply, but as many quote unquote good people as possible. So rights of the bad people who have criminal records for, well, very serious crimes, very minor things aren’t really an issue, but serious crimes or anything where you would serve jail time in St.
Lucia, you’re automatically not qualified persons who are seen as litigation or so someone who’s been sued maybe 20, 30 times, people at that sort of vision street who we think can bring distribute to St. Lucia would be disqualified and persons who are bankrupt and who are trying to evade taxes and anything that’s nefarious what we want really are good people who can contribute to St. Lucia. I think the ideal citizen for St. Lucia right now are persons who want to come and want to invest in St. Lucia and use their Citizenship in a way which initially threw their investment to get Citizenship benefits St. Lucia, but who could also have a continuous relationship with the island. And our Citizenship by investment unit is also working with Invest St. Lucia, which is our investment unit on island. And they’re trying to constantly find synergies because what they want to promote is what they call beyond the passport, where it’s not just about visa free travel.
If you ask citizen action and you come into St. Lucia and you let them know, they will ensure that you’re well taken care of, they ask to meet and they’re really trying to get people to really invest inia, whether that’s an active investment or passive investment, I think for them we, they see that we already get towards foreign direct investment. And if you’re a citizen, why not do more? Why not, you know, own a business in St. Lucia, why not have us stake in some sort of entity which will benefit you as well as the rest of the general citizenship.
So I think that is really our ideal citizen and what they’re really looking for and we’re, they’re trying to create programs which will attract these sort of people. So programs or offerings for Citizenship, which isn’t simply a donation or paying for real estate where you’re actually forming some sort of enterprise or you’re investing in some sort of joint venture. I think they really want to push that and that’s probably something we’re gonna see to attract again, more of what you would consider the ideal citizen.
And before, before we move on, sorry, sorry to just jump in there. You know, Keith touched on something that brought something to the forefront. You know, on our marketing initiatives, we have shown that we have positioned St. Lucia in such a place where we are attracting the sort of Investors that we want. And I’ll give you a little example, you know, touching on what Keith is saying the demographic seems to be a wealthier client who actually has a keen interest in seeing how their, their investment benefits the country as a whole.
I mean, we, two things come to mind, and Keith will just jump in here. I mean, we have a director at one of the Ivy League universities in the States, for example. And one of the discussions is, you know, how are they going to contribute to their, their, their new country? You know, that’s, that’s one we have a senior official from the UN who is, you know, looking around and, and, and looking to move here and you know, we have aseveralvery wealthy people who are not just inquiring about and processing Citizenship on the basis that oh yeah, I will get a Citizenship.
But it’s about their concerns are about how is my investment going to benefit the country that I am now adopting and or has adopted me in a manner of speaking. And it seems that that, that, that is what I find is the value proposition. The other thing about it is that, you know, potential Investors also need to look at what the government’s policy is on, on, on, on global issues. So say, for example, the sanctions in Russia, you know, to the extent that a lot of our trade is done with the US you know, we’re a four-hour flight away from mainland United States, you know, from Miami.
We’re, we’re a direct flight away from London for example. You know, how are our, our governmental policies, you know, aligned with global policies that will not affect the value proposition of this investment that you’re going to make. And that is something that you, you know, know the government has very been, been very keen on because it’s about ensuring that we’re all aligned and, and ensuring that you will not be investing in a jurisdiction that may itself become sanctioned because of certain, certain decisions that the government is, is taking on a policy level, you know, whether on a, on an individual basis you agree with it or not.
The question is, are you going to find yourself in a place where you are now jeopardized because of this investment? And, and that is something that we always tell the Investors to look at, you know, when you’re making your choices, look and see who is aligned in certain ways and, and who is kind of misstepping with global, you know, policy.
Great, thanks. Thanks for that comment. It’s pretty interesting. Now, one thing that strikes me about the solution, I think you guys are alluding to so there are just, just to create context. So there are five jurisdictions or if I islands or five countries in the Caribbean, which offer Citizenship by investment aside from Sal Lucia, we have Grenada and Alda do and St. Kits right now St. Lucia relatively speaking is probably bigger in terms of population size at least.
So therefore it’s less, yes it is laid back but not as much as some perhaps with some of the neighboring territories. So whereas I’ve heard comments that, okay, some of the others I want Citizenship, but if I live there might be too boring. So Lucia, you know, may, may have a different valley proposition in that, you know, there’s so much going on it, you know, it could be an interesting place for someone who is actually looking for a place to live that that second or third jurisdiction depending on, on how they, they plan their lives.
So that is interesting. However, on the flip side, taxation, so some of the others have relatively simpler tax regimes, but of course Sin Lucia is not a tax free jurisdiction, but it does have territorial tax. So generally speaking, income that arises outside of sin Lucia is not taxed. But investments in sin Lucia would be tax. How do you comment on the livability of sin Lucia and the tax, the relative tax appeal of sin, generally speaking You’re on mute if you speaking.
Yeah, sorry. Well, I mean generally speaking, yes you are correct. We adopt a territorial tax tax approach. The thing about it is that, and you know, you, okay, let’s step back for a second and, and sort of again provide a little more context. You know, we’re a independent small island developing state that is, that is largely dependent on tourism for income. You know, we’re competing because of our physical location we’re competing.
So say mainland Europe for example, we’re competing with, with sort of cheaper options on the doorstep of London, of England and France and all the rest of, you know, on the rest of Europe we have to earn money some way. The thing about it is that we cannot be a zero tax jurisdiction as a matter of fact because because of our transition from, from what was largely an agricultural based economy to a tourism based economy, we’ve had to, we’ve had to maintain the tax system and, and that’s where the majority of St Lucia’s or or the government’s income is derived.
There’s no way about getting around from that. You know, we have to provide social services to everybody just like anybody else, you know, medical security and all the rest of it. And, and so, you know, that is why the government has taken on initiatives like CBI because that is where you are going to add, you know, income into your treasury to fund all of these various things. There’s no getting around that. But I will say to you that what is interesting about when you look at St Lu’s compared to to to to, to what is happening elsewhere, particularly in the week of the pandemic, is that we’ve maintained our tax position at the 30%, which is where it’s been for a very long time.
What has happened during the last, in the last, in the last budget was that there were some changes to increase the threshold. So a lot of people are falling more outside of the tax bracket and that’s because of analysis that was done of if you like, the what the, the effect of inflation on a large segment of our population. But what what what is interesting though from an investment point of view is that we have a full suite of fiscal incentives and legislation that facilitates inbound investment by foreigners and locals alike.
Where you could get a 15, 10, 15 year tax holiday customs duties exempt on the importation of raw materials and on building supplies. So say for example, you want to take advantage of what is comparatively speaking, you know, cheaper beach front lands, you know, and you want to build a a small, cuz there are, there are options available for different scales of development. You can basically do this with no taxation, you know, and avail yourself of a very simple application process once you have the capital to inject.
So,yes there is there this tax regime at at 30% but there are these options available for people who have capital or who have access to capital to invest and actually basically, you know, propel the country in a certain way, you know, and not pay any taxes for 10 or 15 years once their investment is to a certain level.
Thank you for that. Keith, do you wanna comment?
Yeah, actually piggyback a bit on, Jeffrey was saying in regards taxation. So additionally in the recent times they’ve started this well from an existing concept called economic substance where in more or less major companies, if you have certain economic substance, so you may have a head office in ST.Lucia for example and enough operations in St Lucia, you’re more or less tax-exempt. And I think the benefit of that is, so for example we have a few regional banks, their head office is actually in St. Lucia because they want to benefit from that tax exemption. When you do that, you are bringing in maybe your ceo, you’re bringing in your high level people, these people are coming and they’re also contributing to the economy. Now we have a very large population of Expats in St. Lu because of that, that drives livability because the more high level high you have in New Island, the better house in New New Island, you know, so now we have what is really a world class marina in st we have a really good golf course.
Another one is being built by s which is supposed to be one of the best golf courses in the world when it’s done, which should be in about a year or two. So because of that and because of the money we’re generating from all our programs, we’re not saying, hey come and just tax exempt. We’re telling you yes there are taxes, but if you invest in St Lua to make it better, we will invest in you and we will make things easier for you. And that then drives the economy, that then drives infrastructure, that then drives livability, that just drives more people to the island.
And you have this continuous cycle or what should definitely be, be a continuous cycle of growth and expansion of our economy, which will again improve livability and get more and more people and more foreign direct investment and more income and revenue to the island. And I think that’s really worked well in the last few years and which is why I think our transition from agriculture to tourism has been a really massive success, at least in my opinion.
I think in the Caribbean also as someone who’s lived in London for a long amount of time, who’s traveled to Europe, to the UAE, to Asia, I think for livability, yes we’re not Dubai, we don’t want to be Dubai, but I think we’re definitely a good mix of, you know, sea, sun, sand, but also good infrastructure, good internet, good options to eat, good access. I think we really have a bit of everything and honestly, I think is livable for almost any profile of a person.
Great, thanks. Thanks a lot. For those who just joining, we do these live streams every week, HTJ.tax/events. If you visit our website and your comment through one of them, the chat portals solution, you can win a chance to attend our Nomad Offshore Summit at the end of January and have a conversation with Jeffrey and Keith in person and talk more about the solution advantage. Now, to your point absolutely the livability of the solution does stand out. You know, the festival’s jazz, the carnival, the, you know, the nightlife is, there’s a buzz in unlike some of the smaller quieter islands and the, as a result of that investment opportunity and, and again just to create context, so my understanding, and you correct me if I’m wrong, you can apply for Citizenship based on a hundred thousand dollars donation to national economic fund real estate for 300,000, buying 250,000 in government bonds or investing a million in local enterprise. Now in terms of that real estate option, somehow real estate as a vehicle for Citizenship by investment has come under criticism by certain influencers online. You know, they say it’s not value for money, it’s hard to get rid of it, it’s overpriced, and the yield is not there. What do you, what are your comments, what are your thoughts on that? The real estate option?
So I think it’s a bit of a difficult well situation when it comes to real estate. So in the Caribbean, I think what the issue historically has been is we’ve had generally across the region a fair amount of white elephants so to speak. So projects which started and they don’t finish, you know, and I think they have been some really good projects. So I think Secret Bay for example, in Dominique, I think they recently announced that they’ve given, had over a million dollars in us in returns to Investors recently.
I think, you know, Kapinsky is another beautiful property in Domonica and I was actually in Dominia cs than a month ago. I had the pleasure of seeing what that is, you know, so I think real estate can be a good vehicle. I think like anything else you need to discern in when it comes to making that investment, I think it would be a bit naive to think that hey, you’re just gonna have a guaranteed return. I don’t think that’s that, just from an investment perspective generally that very rarely happens in anything, you know, so you need to look at, hey, what is being built if it’s not yet completed, what is the visibility of what these people are trying to do?
You know? And then take a real hard and educated look at what that specific project is because I think again, for every white elephant which didn’t finished, you have a few gems like the cap penski do, like Secret Bay as I said, I think range developments, they’re doing really good work across the region and all of their, all of their developments have either finished or are set to finish. I think Insane Galaxys not yet done, but I’m just, you know, looking at where they’re going.
I think what they want to do should be a really beautiful resort, which can hopefully get returns. But again, these developments are all by private developers, so you need to be the certain, you need to look at your investment. And generally if you’re just looking, if you’re just like, hey, I, if you don’t want to really think about it, don’t go the real estate route, you know, because it is an investment and like every investment there is a risk. So anyone who’s telling you, hey, just spend a 4,000, you’re gonna have a guaranteed return and after the five year hold it period, you’re guaranteed to make your money back, that person is probably lying to you.
But if there’s someone who tells you, hey, this is what we have, these are our projections, we think in five years the way the market is going, if things go this way, you can do this, then that’s the discussion you need to have on a case by case basis. But I do think real estate can be a good avenue and I think from a, the perspective of the country, the CBI real estate can be very beneficial because it attracts, it attracts not only more foreign direct investment than tourism, but also creates more jobs for the local economy.
So I think there’s definitely something there. I just think that people need to be more discerned and also governments need to take steps to ensure that these, these developers are well regulated, that these properties are built. Because that’s the only way you’re gonna move the stigma away from real estate in the Caribbean by having a track record of consistently good completed projects, which may not all give you the return you want, but which when you, when all things considered everything was well regulated, everything there was a system that everyone was accredited. I think that’s really important.
But Derren, I’d like to hear your view on this cuz obviously, I mean, it it there there’s a bit of it out there, you know, in the virtual space. I mean I have my own personal views about, you know, Investors being a little more discerning and, and exploring and prodding, asking the right questions and ensuring that it’s also aligned with their investments and their portfolios and what their expectation is. But I’d like to hear from, you know, sort of hear your perspective on it. Cuz at the end of the day it’s still a general business proposal. I mean there’s only what is slightly different, this is not a pure real estate investment. There’s that, there’s this added, you know, icing on the cake which is the Citizenship.
I think, you know, I agree with, with Keith’s, you know, point of view and I think not just with CBI but just personal finance in general, there is, there’s a problem, there’s a problem and we saw it come to a head in a couple weeks ago with FTx not in a neighboring Caribbean jurisdiction. So you, you have FTX and, and other not just, I’m not gonna pick on ftx, but other investment opportunities where you have influences in the space and who may not be from a finance background, but they are trying to promote these investment opportunities and perhaps, you know, they’re sometimes subject to a little bit of an exaggeration in terms of their sales sales pitch.
It just lends itself to problems and it lends itself to problems. So where real estate or crypto or you know, a personal finance course, whatever the case may be, if anybody is promising you that you will be wealthy and you’re gonna be a millionaire and you will get a return, obviously, you know, it’s probably not true and, and you see it in in stock contrast to, you know, influences and analysts who are properly qualified and credentialed for what they do, they never make recommendations because they understand that of course there’s always an element of risk and everybody’s risk profile and everybody’s personal goals, financial goals are gonna be completely different.
So they’re not gonna come on the platform and speak generally, but unfortunately as a result of their, of their prudence and their conservative approach, they don’t tend to attract as much visibility as that guy or lady or whoever is gonna be on a platform shouting, and you’re gonna be rich, you’re gonna be rich like me, here’s my whatever by buying this or investing in whatever it is I’m being paid to promote today. So, so yeah, I think it comes down to caveat, buyer beware, do your due diligence and make your own decisions.
And that’s just the way its right. Okay, so moving, moving away from the real estate stuff, again, another simplistic way of looking at Citizenship. For me, this is my perspective, you can tell me if, if you guys agree, a somewhat naive and simplistic way of looking at CBI options would be having a table that says, well this is the number of visa-free countries you’re gonna get and therefore because this country gives you more, automatically it ranks higher than ones that give you less.
So what do you think of that ranking system and, and what do you think about St Lucia’s place in that overall spectrum? This whole thing about visa free travel options?
So I think that trying to sell Citizenship strictly based on differences in the visa free options is a very simplistic way to look at it in that, to be honest with you, most of the eastern countries have almost the exact same visa free access. So St Lucia has 147 countries visa free. As of right now, I think the country of the most probably has either 1 54 or 1 56. Now when you look at these differences, the countries which are there, you’re probably never going to go to these countries.
You know, I think for the most part there’s a core list of countries which people look at. So generally the average person from for example maybe Syria or Pakistan, they’re looking for visa free access generally to Europe or the Shen zone and Britain. And they’re also looking for easier pathways to getting a US visa. So most of the Caribbean islands, we are afforded 10 year US visas. The process is fairly simple. While in some of these places it may take them six months to a year to get a visa, which in some cases may last only six months and maybe a single entry, you know, I think for the most part we offer the same cost suite of country so to speak.
I think different, a few countries have a few additional benefits. So they are countries which have visa free to China. So if you’re a businessman and you’re manufactured and that’s important for you, then obviously look at a country which has visa free to China. Some countries have visa free to Russia. So if that’s a big part of your market, then you can look at that For St Lucia, what we have with some of the other islands we have is we have visa free to Taiwan in a very strong relationship with Taiwan. So what we’ve seen is right now a lot of time when these citizens, they’re interested in Citizenship in St Lucia because they’re like, Hey St Lucia and Taiwan have very strong diplomatic relations.
Actually our prime minister landed in Taiwan before yesterday for his first official visit since a human office. And Taiwan gives grants, there’s a big embassy in St Lucia. So that’s what the benefit is for us. But these are of course niches which will not apply to everyone, you know. So again, it’s really looking at your personal circumstances. If you’re just looking at generally the obvious, so shen zone options to get a visa to the US Canada, then you can really look at any option While it’s, whilst if you’re looking at places like Taiwan or China or Russia, then you probably want to be a bit more discerning from country to country.
But apart from that, all of the islands we have Hong Kong, we have Singapore, you know, so there’s not really many differences there. And I think that you need to, we all need to look see than that. And I think that’s what why we we’re also our current markets and is beyond the passport. Because again, similarly to tourism, if you think of visa free, it’s all just sensy and sand. You know, if you just look at it, you know, from a very macro perspective, we all have nice beaches, we’re all island, it’s sunny.
Most of the year you could sit the beach and drink a colada, you know, it’s really the same thing if you just look at it from that perspective. But when you zone in for certain Investors, there’s gonna be these little differences, which will matter for some people, but it won’t matter at all for many people.
But Keith post pandemic and also after the sort of unrest and the change in the government in the us, we did see a difference in the profile of the applicants. And, and, and it was not, it was not at its core what would historically be a sort of a visa unrestricted access consideration. We, we saw a lot of that and I think we’re still seeing quite a bit of that.
Yep. So at one point, more than 30% of our onboarded clients were either Americans live in the US or persons who may be American, but they live in Malaysia or Hong Kong or Expats, who, you know, with the pandemic and with all the unrests in the US they found that being simply an American citizen was not beneficial. I think at one point in regard to travel, a US passport would probably get you to less places than a solution passport and to passports which have very low rankings in the world, you know?
So I think that was a real eyeopener for people. And then I think at that point also, not only was they unrest, but you had all this talk about wealth taxes, you know, because of the pandemic and then people were like, hey, if I don’t want, if I, I don’t need to live in the US because now I’m working from Bo, I can live anywhere. I’m still as productive working from home. Maybe I’ve worked for a few months in Asia, I want to stay here, it’s cheaper for me to stay anywhere, enjoy this standard of living and this lifestyle more than the us why go back?
You know? And I think at that point what you saw is they had a record number of renunciations in the US and I think the last two years that’s just increased and they think it’s gonna keep increasing because the pandemic really opened people’s eyes. Cuz now you’re not just focused on work, you’re seeing, you know, people started looking at things differently. So before the pandemic, very rarely would you see Americans, Europeans even thinking about Citizenship by investment. And now we have quite a bit, we have lots of Germans, we have quite a few French people, we actually have some American clients who came to St on Friday who I should be meeting tomorrow. So I think we’ve really seen that shift since the pandemic and visa free has really not been much of an issue because these people already have visa free as well.
You see, and Derren that’s where, that’s where the adopting the territorial based model of taxation really helps because we have such good livability, strong infrastructure, like with the internet for example. And also, you know, having, we, we have an international school based on the Canadian model and, and also having a lot of the facilities and amenities. What we’ve found is that because there is no taxation on the foreign source income that people figure, you know, it’s a really good option for them to work virtually.
And we’ve had quite a, quite a few people moving their families down here and, and, and sort of living, living the Caribbean lifestyle, if you like, without having, without having to pay the taxes and so on. So you, you know, it, as I said, the value proposition and that’s what the pandemic actually did help us in that regard because it opened up a lot of people’s eyes. They wanted an alternative, less risky alternative that, that that would facilitate, you know, a good lifestyle and a good quality of life.
Cuz obviously you’re not gonna compare with the standard of living. You, you can, but it’s gonna be a lot more expensive, but a very good quality of life while still maintaining the ability to earn and, and not be, not be faced with, with, with additional taxes. So I mean that was, that, that was pretty interesting. And as I said, more and more people are recognizing that because of our, our strong political, you know, sort of stability over, over, over the entire period of our independence, they’re seeing it based on all the uncertainty that’s going on in the world.
And if you like, what if, if you have to adopt, you know, Russia’s for instance as a proxy war in Ukraine and all as they’re seeing this as a pretty safe place to be. You know, we’re, we’re very small, so nobody’s paying any attention to us, you know, apart from the waves battering on the, on the beaches and the cliffs. But I mean and that seems to be what the profile of, of the applicants and the, and the interested parties are now.
Yeah, I think the two points that kind of like popped out from what you guys were saying, first of all, the internet. So that is something, I mean, that cannot be over-emphasized so many jurisdictions, you know, you may take it for granted where you are in North America and Europe, but a lot of jurisdictions have internet connectivity issues, including certain Caribbean islands, including the UAE (US tax returns UAE) because as anyone who’s lived in the UAE, like I have, there’s a huge problem with VPNs. So certain American platforms that you take for granted, like WhatsApp and stuff, they’re really hard to use without a VPN.
And even with the VPN it’s like a moving target. You, you’re playing Cannon Mouse or the government. So I, you know, I had a client who was gonna move to the UAE, but because she runs an IT situ company, she didn’t move because she needs unencumbered access to certain US platforms, which you can get. So that, that internet piece is super important. And then the other, the other point that you guys raise is the, you know, a lot came out of the, the recent pandemic, you know, before many people their plan B from North America was Australian, New Zealand.
And then you had a situation, I remember the heightened pandemic, you had like half a million Australian citizens who could not return to Australia, who can leave Australia. So the border is closed, New Zealand never fully closed, but it was still not easy to get in and out. So suddenly for people who, for whom that was their plan B, their plan B was taken away from them because they couldn’t go or they couldn’t come or whatever the situation is. So I think the new plan B is to have multiple plan Bs basically given, you know, the uncertainty, you don’t know what’s gonna happen, you don’t know the next time, because we live in an uncertain world and this, I think only someone who’s naive thinks that this could not happen again.
It may, and you want the ability to, to move, you know, if things get too uncomfortable, feel liking in whichever jurisdiction you are, you want the alternative, you want to go somewhere else and, and pops enjoy a little bit more space during the, the lockdown or, or whatever. And a more scenic view, access to nature, fresh air, things like that. So yeah, things have, have really, I think perspectives have changed and the whole narrative around second citizenships and, and residencies has evolved as a result of what we all experience.
Now, having said that, the contradiction is that certain OECD countries are becoming vociferous with their discomfort with c b initiatives. So particularly the Europeans, I believe the Americans don’t like it either, but they kind, they haven’t been too overt with that. But definitely, the Europeans have been at the forefront of critiquing them and they found, you know, obviously, there were certain irregularities, but even before the irregularities with Cyprus, they were against it.
And now we have legal action against Malta with mals basically the last man standing in Europe. And my thinking is that once they have their house in order, then they will look outwards. And you know, for example, we saw what happened with Vanuatu losing access to certain, you know, jurisdictions that they could have entered visa-free. My concern is that that perspective would be expanded and they would target CBI programs in general. What are your thoughts on that?
I think that you are correct that at some point they are probably going to target our jurisdictions. I think that unfortunately we’re generally painted with the same brush, you know, and I think that they have had issues with Cyprus, like you said with Van Watson, but when it comes to the CBI in the Caribbean, generally, I think we’re very well regulated. I think that of course, you’re not going to catch every, cause there’s this, you know, there’s this trade of thought where some countries, they expect you to more or less know someone as a criminal before they’re actually a criminal.
You’re not going to, someone could become a citizen, be a fine person, and then five years later perform atrocious deeds. And that’s just the reality. All you can do is due diligence today. And I think that the Caribbean region, say Lucia, particularly Grenada as well, I think they’ve done a really good job because we want good citizens. You know, if you don’t have good citizens and you keep, you let in persons which are on inter one’s list who are sanctioned, for example, you really just have, you know, a house of cars which will fall.
So maybe today you’re gonna make some money by getting extra persons in quicker, but in the long term, that’s not sustainable. I think the issue with the OECD is they look at things very much from a tax perspective. So for them, the more persons who get Citizenship and who have options that’s tax revenue away from them, you know, which I think is very unfortunate because the cbi, particularly some of the even smaller islands like ST kits and Dominica, the CBI has done so much for the economy and in some ways has been very transformational, you know, but I think that the next year or two is gonna be extremely important for our industry.
I think that right now there’s a lot of lobby taking place, particularly in Brussels. I think that with what’s happened in Vanuatu, in particularly what’s happening in Ukraine, that’s surprising enough, brought additional spotlight on CBI since whether or not you should accept Russian citizens and persons from Belarus. That’s become, that’s become a bit of an issue and also be risking, you know, what do banks think of cbi? That’s also become a core issue in itself.
So I think the next two years are going to be particularly important. But I think the Caribbean region, what we’re doing generally is very much fit for purpose. I think our programs are robust. I think that all the jurisdictions, they want good persons as citizens and that they do do enough due diligence definitely in that we do this every day. I can tell you the number of documents, how rigorous it is, the sort of questions we get back from the unit for our applicants, the level of details they go into.
I think the programs are fit for purpose, but as I think we saw with our Offshore sector and other industries like agriculture and World Trade Organization, it’s very difficult, unfortunately sometimes to please these superpowers. And in many ways we’re just a do to very little influence. But I think the next two years or so will be very influential and important for the industry.
Yeah, I, you know, Derren, we could have a, we could have a whole series on that topic. You know, I personally have difficulty with it. I, I understand and I, I appreciate and I respect the concerns. There is no, I have no personal difficulty with that. What I do have is difficulty with how the policy is being framed without any parameters set. I mean, most of, most of these, you know, going beyond the eu look at the US they all have some sort of investment program that brings you to ultimately getting Citizenship.
That is the truth and the reality, I think. So at the core, what it should be should be a minimum standard on due diligence. For example, some policy must be rolled out on a very high level, that must be some subscription. It could form the framework of some international treaty or, or some agreement where there is some, some high-level regulation. But I think to just without more just if you like, apply the big stick simply for the reason that you have it, our CBI program is not good enough.
And I think that, you know, taking that stance is unfair and unjust inequitable without delving into the mechanics of each and, and taking each case on its own facts and on its own merits. You cannot compare one jurisdiction to the other because of the policy. You cannot compare one jurisdiction to the other because of, you know, the level of due diligence that it might, might apply, but you’re wanting to apply a broad brush across, across every program simply on the basis that you have in our C B I program and nothing more.
There’s no merit in investigating each one. So as I said, I mean, we, we could go and add Infinitum on this one, but I do find that it’s core without more, it’s unjust and unfair, quite honestly.
Absolutely. And in the case of Malta, which of course is facing legal action, from Brussels, they do not just have one service provider providing due diligence, they actually require two. So, you know, it’s like double yet still the sentiment is what it is. And then recently we’ve had one of the government ministers in Portugal who has hinted that the golden visa may be reviewed and come and come to an end regardless of how much billions of euros it’s contributed to Portugal.
So I mean it’s crystal clear that the powers and be, have a perspective and you know, it is what it is. And it’s interesting that you drew that historical perspective because yes, there was agriculture, there was the Loma Convention and the had preferential access, then there was the offshore sector and that went its own way. And now we have CBI and, you know, maybe, maybe not. And yeah, I guess they, the question perhaps for another time would be what’s next for solution in the other form.
But with that in mind, we’ve come to the end. It’s, it’s been an hour. Appreciate your time and, and share your insights and your perspective. Thank you to Ilio. I saw your comments on LinkedIn. You had some people watching us on LinkedIn, and on Facebook. Please feel free to have a look at HTJ.tax/events we have an in-person event in Portugal at the end of January where you can meet Jeffrey and Keith in person and talk about CBI and the options there. But Jeffrey, and Keith, if someone wants to reach you right now, they have some brilliant questions, what’s the best way to find you?
So we’re both on LinkedIn, that’s Keith Isaac. You can also shoot us an email to our law firm, our website is FDT.law for our law firm, the Citizenship, it’s PolarisCitizenship.com. If you want to email either of ourselves, so myself, it’s Keith@fbt.law or Jeffrey@fbtlaw. So any of these emails are, or LinkedIn. We’re always available, and always happy to have a chat.
Sorry Jeffrey, go.
No, I was just saying thanks a lot Derren for hosting this event. Thanks for having us. I can’t believe that an hour has already passed. I mean, as I said, you know, some of these topics are really, really interesting, controversial, and I think they warrant ventilation, you know, to, to sensitize. It’s always about being people, and being conscious about what’s going on. So, yeah. So thanks again. Really appreciate it.
DERREN JOSEPH: Okay, wonderful. Thank you very much, and we will see you next time. Bye.
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