Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris on Monday announced at a national conference of service providers and developers under the citizenship-by-investment (CBI) program in St Kitts and Nevis that Les Khan is the new head of the Citizenship-by-Investment Unit (CIU).
Previously, Khan worked as IPSA International’s project team leader for St Kitts and Nevis.
IPSA International, a regulatory risk mitigation company, completed a program review of the St Kitts and Nevis CBI program in the fourth quarter of 2014. Then, on April 30, 2015, an announcement was made that the St Kitts and Nevis government had retained the services of the company to address recommendations that would improve the country’s CBI program.
“IPSA, a regulatory risk mitigation firm delivering advisory and investigative services, will assist the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Unit to increase the program’s transparency and efficiency,” the press release said.
Within one year of the April 30, 2015, announcement, the current Team Unity administration successfully reorganized, restructured and repositioned the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship program as the best in the world, making the oldest such program stronger and better to discharge its mandate.
Harris made the improved Citizenship-by-Investment Unit a focus of his press conference on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. During the press conference, Harris affirmed that “Our CIU is now open for legitimate business. It is now administratively and legally stronger and better.”
The prime minister said the reasons behind the amelioration of the CIU were the deliberate and necessary steps his administration had taken to reform, restructure and reposition the citizenship program, including the implementation of 20 recommendations by IPSA International.
On Monday morning, in addressing the service providers and developers at the conference, held under the theme “St Kitts and Nevis Redefining Global Citizenship, Leading the Way Again!”, Harris said, “There are several initiatives that I am confident will reignite participation in our CBI product, positioning St Kitts and Nevis as the clear and obvious destination for global citizenship.”
Harris added: “First, I am pleased to announce that after extensive consideration, the government has appointed a new head of the CIU, Mr Les Khan. You all know him as the consultant who has led the restructuring of the CIU over the last 18 months or so. The changes that the majority of you have complimented have been as a result of his guidance. The fact that the engagement model has changed within the unit for the better is further evidence of his ability to lead the program going forward.”
At the first national consultation on the CBI program held on July 30, 2015, Khan said, “I am here only to talk about the way forward. There are many changes at play within the CBI
Khan said the changes related to general governance and systems.
“Within the last few months, staff with related skill sets has been hired [at the CIU],” Khan said in July 2015. “These individuals bring experience… and will contribute to the overall vetting of files. This addition to staff was in response to the need to address not only the vetting process, but to continue to improve the level of support in this critical business,” he added while noting that there would be continuous staff evaluations and reviews of the organizational structure of the CIU.
“With the intent of improving the management of workflow, both from a manual and system perspective, these changes will assist in providing more control in the day-to-day file processing, and these are consistent with the recommendations we made last year.”
At Monday’s conference, Harris provided a clear roadmap for further success.
“With the appointment of the new head of the unit, the reforms undertaken and our new marketing strategy, we are now in a position to implement our rebranding effort,” Harris said, adding, “We will now be more aggressive in our rebranding and are prepared to tell the story of change in a more interactive and personal manner. We will enter the roadshow circuit. We will participate in selective conferences to shore up market demand whilst we look to explore more market opportunities.”
The prime minister continued: “Les will be leading a well-disciplined local team with a broad cross-section of skills to strengthen our resource capabilities in order to deliver a platinum service. We have people with high-level expertise in marketing, immigration, international banking, anti-money laundering and administration.”
The results, so far, speak for themselves. The government inherited a backlog of over 1,500 citizenship applications, which has now been significantly reduced. Moreover, current applications to the CIU are being turned around within 45 to 75 days, while cold files are attended to on a daily basis. Also, the CIU is now using three due diligence service providers. Importantly, too, the Unit now offers a 24/7 case management system, meaning service providers can access information on the status of their applications at any given day or time.
At a roundtable discussion on the economy that the government held with the St Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce on April 28, 2016, the attorney general, Vincent Byron, Jr., told CIC president José Rosa and other Chamber officials that the cabinet secretary, Josephine Huggins, is personally responsible to the Cabinet and the prime minister for overseeing the reforms at the CIU.
“The Cabinet secretary goes there on Saturday and Sunday. We are there seven days a week processing it,” the attorney general said at the time.