Thursday, February 23, 2017


Notwithstanding its bold announcement, three weeks ago, that it would publicly name all the foreign nationals holding diplomatic passports, Antigua & Barbuda has still not released the identities of those obviously high-risk individuals. Antigua made that statement, at the beginning of February, after the regional controversy over the extradition of a known international oil sanctions evader, who was issued a diplomatic passport in Dominica.

Antigua did advise that it sent a list of its accredited (meaning genuine) diplomats to its "international partners," although such professionals are already known, as they routinely present their credentials to the country where they are serving, at the beginning of their tour of duty. This news does nothing to educate the banking industry about who is running around the globe with these technically illegal passports.

In an effort to pacify those who are still asking tough questions, and more likely as a form of spin control, Antigua is now claiming that it is upgrading its economic passport program, by adhering to Global Investor Immigration Council (GIIC) recommendations and regulatory framework. The GIIC is not an official body; it is an industry group, a London-based NGO, without any enforcement powers, and to date has functioned as solely an advisory body.

Antigua has offered to recall and reissue its paid diplomatic passports, with biometric features, to prevent unauthorized use, but here again, no movement has been seen on this front. Until and unless there is some genuine reform of Antigua's diplomatic passport program, compliance officers will treat any encounter with individuals holding such documents as extremely high risk, meaning that enhanced due diligence must be applied.

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