Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment programme to face major setback amid dispute in the government

The internal feud within the government of Vanuatu is being blamed for causing havoc on the multi-island country's economy.
The internal feud within the government of Vanuatu is being blamed for causing havoc on the multi-island country's economy.

The internal feud within the government of Vanuatu is being blamed for causing havoc on the multi-island country’s economy. An Australia based media organization Cronullanews.Sydney released a detailed interview with a person currently working as an official in the government. 

Cronulla News stated that following the EU Commission’s proposal to terminate the visa-waiver agreement with the European Union, Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program is on the verge of collapsing. It added that the continuous squabble within the government is a significant impediment to the actions.

Notably, Cronulla News was the first media house to break the news of the European Commission’s decision to dismiss the visa-waiver agreement with Vanuatu. Their report had arrived days before the official press release issued by the European Commission, criticising the misconduct and incapable due diligence process of Vanuatu on its Citizenship by Investment Programme applications. 

A person from Vanuatu’s CBI Unit talked to Cronulla News on the condition of anonymity. He said the deteriorated state of the Citizenship by Investment Programme of Vanuatu is alarming, and the brawl within the government is fuelling the situation. 

He also said that the government had been looking for a trustworthy and competent marketing firm to help re-organize the programme in an aim to meet international standards for the safety and security of the regional and global community. 

Furthermore, he said it took the government two years to decide which company could take the Vanuatu CBI Unit out of the rubble. He stated that in 2021, the conversations to engage the CS Global Partners started as the firm’s outstanding reputation in the field of marketing of citizenship by programmes had been speaking for itself. 

“After one year of continued persuasions , CS Global Partners agreed to come on board to rescue the Citizenship by Investment Unit of Vanuatu, but the Attorney General (AG) Arnold Kiel Loughman and Financial Intelligence Unit Director Floyd Ray Mera were against the agreement,”. 

He emphasized that due to personal grudges and disputes with the government of Vanuatu, Attorney General (AG) Arnold Kiel Loughman and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Director Floyd Ray Mera released the government’s detailed agreement with CS Global Partners and published it in the public domain. 

He called AG and FIU Directors’ approach highly unprofessional, unethical and embarrassing for Vanuatu at large and said their misconduct could make everyone worried about the future of the CBI programme of Vanuatu.

“I believe the CSGP may be reconsidering their associations with the government in regards to our country’s CBI Program. There is a schism within the government, and the people will be left to bear the brunt of it,” added the person. 

“We are on the verge of losing our visa-waiver deal with the EU, and the UK is next; if we lose both, individuals will lose interest in the Citizenship by Investment Program”.

“Let me also tell you that our 50% revenue depends on the Citizenship by Investment Programme. If we lose CS Global Partners, we’ll be one step closer to being suspended from visa-waiver agreements by the EU. Tourism has already suffered a serious setback as a result of COVID-19, and the failure of our CBI Program will have a significant economic impact,” added the man from CBI Unit of Vanuatu on condition of anonymity. 

Vanuatu, a small multi-island Republic situation on the Pacific, grants citizenship in exchange to foreigners in exchange for a financial contribution to national development projects. Just recently, Vanuatu has also added a real estate option for those who want assets in return for their investment. 

Vanuatu’s revenue from the CBI programme provides for more than half of the country’s total revenue. The ‘Expansion’ of the scheme has been damaged not only by opposition leader Ralph Regenvanu but also by international media. Many media houses, including the ABC Australia and The Guardian, UK, published and uncovered the scandal of international fugitives awarded Vanuatu passports. 

Vanuatu passport provides visa-free travel to over 100 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom and many European countries. The due diligence process of the CBI Unit of Vanuatu has been a matter of concern for some time. Still, the government maintained that they had no other independent company to do thorough vetting.