Grenada watchdog group concerned about conflict of interest in possible economic citizenship programme

A local watchdog group calling themselves Citizens in Defense of Grenada’s Lands and Heritage, has written to Prime Minister Tillman Thomas expressing concern with his government’s alleged engagement of Henley & Partners to facilitate the development of its economic citizenship program.

The group complained that one of its integral members Wendell Lawrence who manages similar programs in St. Kitts/Nevis  and Dominica, is also a board member of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and as such brings into question his ability to serve both interests without bias.

Spokesperson for the group Sandra Ferguson, speaking to a local media house on the issue said they are concerned.

“There are allegations of people of dubious pasts, dubious connections taking advantage of this program and therefore we do not think that any individual that is linked to a company that is selling economic citizenship…should be a member of the Board of Directors of the ECCB, which sets the policy and in essence is in fact the one which exercises authority,” Ferguson said.

Sandra

Sandra Ferguson, spokesperson for Citizens in Defense of Grenada's Lands and Heritage

She added that she has not doubt that Mr. Lawrence is a “very accomplished individual “but I think there needs to be a separation of the pursuit of public interests and private interests”.

Ms. Ferguson added “it is our view that Mr. Lawrence’s private interests, is in conflict with the pursuit of his public interests, as a member of these two boards.”

Earlier this month Finance Minister Nazim Burke announced that the government was pursuing an economic citizenship program dubbed “Grenada Individual Investor Programme” which was supposed to help reduce the 2012 budget deficit which now stands at over EC$162 million.

However  reports are that this suggestion was shot down by most members of the cabinet but Finance Minister Burke says it has been put on hold for a while.

Henley & Partners is an international company specializing in residence and citizenship planning. They also offer services in real estate advisory, tax planning and fiduciary services for private clients.

Company has worked for 43 countries around the world with office in nineteen including St. Kitts/Nevis, Dominica and Anguilla.©

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