Saint Lucia never approved 14,000 CIP applications, there is no $1.4B: Hilaire

Saint Lucia Ernest hilaire
Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Ernest Hilaire while speaking at a press conference on Wednesday

Addressing the allegations by the UWP and Former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, Ernest Hilaire emphasized that Saint Lucia never approved 14,000 CIP applications, and there is no $1.4B.

Hilaire was speaking at a special press conference following allegations of MSR Media’s Philippe Martinez who named CIP Head Mc Claude Emmanuel and several others in a RICO suit involving the underselling of CBI applications by a Caribbean Galaxy-named company.

Ernest Hilaire stated Caribbean Galaxy was brought to Saint Lucia in 2018 by former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.

He also said that from July 2021 to March 2024, the CIP Unit approved only 2047 applications, out of which merely 1,367 were Real Estate for the Caribbean Galaxy Real Estate.

“Contrary to what Mr Martinez has said in a publicized interview and repeated by Allen Chastanet and the UWP, Saint Lucia has never approved 14,000 applications,”.

The Deputy Prime Minister also explained the process of Real Estate Investment Options under the CIP Saint Lucia. He added that the applicant must pass rigorous due diligence requirements and then purchase shares at the minimum stated price which is USD 200,000.

Hilaire said that the money is directly paid to an escrow account, “which is the developer’s money and not the government and is to be used for developing the resort in accordance with the approved development plan,”.

In addition to the USD 200,000 in shares, the applicant also pays the government an administrative fee of USD50,000.

Following the press conference on Wednesday evening, Ernest Hilaire has also ordered a comprehensive review of the Saint Lucia CIP.

He said that an audit is also expected to calculate the number of applications that have been received, and money collected as well as spent under the CIP Programme.  Hilaire said that Saint Lucia will engage an international audit firm to review how the CIP Unit has been operated since it was established in 2016.

“The audit we intend to undertake will seek to review all the current processes, policies and procedures in the operations of our CIP Unit, its relationship to developers, promoters and agents and the establishment of escrow accounts, obtain recommendations to improve governance, transparency, integrity, compliance and processes,” said Hilaire.

Furthermore, Hilaire said that it has always been important for the Saint Lucia government that all applicants go through rigorous due diligence, and the government receives its fee.

During the press conference, Hilaire said that Saint Lucia’s position was clear, and he advised Martinez not to drag Saint Lucia in his conflict with the Caribbean Galaxy Real Estate.

“We do not want to be involved in this matter, and Mr Martinez should stick to resolve his dispute in the court of law.”.