Keeping an Eye on the People’s Business: Spotlight on Henley and Partners: Citizenship by Investment Programme, Diplomatic Passports and General Elections

Sandra Ferguson

by Sandra CA Ferguson

  1. Henley and Partners, Grenada and Diplomatic Passports:

Recently Henley and Partners and Grenada have come under the spotlight. A self- confessed former money launderer has alleged that last year, a Ukrainian businessman, linked to Dubai, who wanted to buy a diplomatic passport from a ‘co-operating country’ contacted Henley and Partners, whose representative instructed the would-be passport buyer to wire $1 million into the firm’s account at Wells Fargo in Singapore. According to the story, “when Henley and Partners failed to deliver diplomatic passports from either Antigua, or Grenada and ignored the businessman’s repeated call, he contacted Antiguan authorities, who denied there was any application pending. Grenada, through one of its ministers, arranged, after a lengthy delay, for a refund.”[1]

There have been strenuous denials from Henley and Partners and from Grenadian authorities:

The self-confessed former money launderer has responded to the denials:

  • He dismissed Grenada denials as “too little too late and inaccurate”[2] – and promised that he will “continue to detail all the players in Grenada’s under-the-table diplomatic passport programme, what their roles are, and how it remains well hidden from public view.”
  • He also suggested that Henley and Partners was using Grenada’s passport scandal to seek commercial advantage overs its competitor, Arton. CIP Consultancy Uses Grenada Diplomatic Passport Scandal to Seek Commercial Advantage over a Competitor.

This situation has piqued the interest of some members of the local media and they have begun to ask questions. A matter of national interest is that of the position of the Executive Director of Grenada’s CBI programme. The Executive Director is no longer on the job, and one cannot get a sense of ‘who running things.’ In April of this year, the website[3] of one of the international marketing agents, Arton, mentioned that the Executive Director “has stepped down from his role as executive director of the citizenship by investment programme”. Authorities have been tight-lipped about this situation, and at this week’s post-Cabinet briefing, Minister Boatswain was evading questions seeking to clarify who was the Executive Director or who was in charge of the programme currently. There is a blanket of secrecy around the Citizenship by Investment Programme and the issue of the Executive Director.

  1. Henley and Partners and the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme:

Henley and Partners came to Grenada in late 2016. A press release on 7 November 2016[4] issued by the company advised that the firm had been appointed by the Government of Grenada to restructure and enhance its citizenship-by-investment programme. The mandate of the firm’s Government Advisory Team is to work hand in hand with the Citizenship by Investment Unit and other government officials to revitalise the programme.”

On the official government CBI website,[5] the following is noted: –

  • Henley and Partners Government Services: described as strategic advisory, global positioning and marketing support services with regard to the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme
  • Henley and Partners: named as an authorised international marketing agents — henleyglobal.com

It would seem reasonable to ask whether or it is Henley and Partners running the show in Grenada as well as being a marketing agent? It pretty much did just that in St Kitts and Nevis.

  1. Henley and Partners and Elections in the Caribbean and Malta:

Back in 2011-2012, when the National Democratic Congress began flirting with the idea of re-introducing an economic citizenship programme aka selling passport scheme, it was journalist Hamlet Markwho by then had parted company with his comrades in the NDC governmentwho alerted we the people to Henley and Partners connection with a British firm SLC. In his blogpost, Notes From All Around, Selling passports version 2.0[6], he noted, “For the unsuspecting Grenadians, SLC would not ring a bell. But what they are is a campaign finance-raising and election campaign management outfit.” The article identified a number of campaigns on which the SLC had worked:

  • With the United Workers Party in Dominica;
  • With the New Democratic Party in St Vincent to help defeat the Ralph Gonsalves referendum and on the NDP’s last unsuccessful general election campaign there.
  • In St Kitts; the journalist added: “where I had the opportunity to watch them up close and personalbut for confidentiality reasons, not at liberty to discuss.”

The article further noted that the SLC:

  • helps raise millions for campaigns — which for them is like an investment because of the potential for ‘business’ on the other end of the campaign.
  • Has ties with some deep-pocket right wingers in the United States and have consistently raised funds against any party their interests deemed as ‘progressives.’

This information about SLC is corroborated by information obtained from the following website (except it makes reference to SCL): http://powerbase.info/index.php/SCL_Elections:

  • 1995-1999 – South America and the Caribbean: ‘SCL Elections assisted in the delivery of electoral success to clients in five countries over a 4-year ’
  • 2010 – St Kitts and Nevis: Fully ran the successful parliamentary campaign of Labour Party incumbent Dr Denzil Douglas
  • 2009: Prime Minister Gonsalves ‘makes the accusation that Henley & Partners funded SCL’s contribution to the ‘Vote No Campaign’ — although this is unsubstantiated.’

In his article, the journalist also commented that he had “a sneaky feeling” in his bones that the Henley and Partners’ “new proposed “engagement” in Grenada is not coincidental to the fact that general elections there are about a year away.”

He also had some advice forthose promoting Henley and Partners, as a good yardstick for management of such a programme.’ He proposed the following questions to be asked of friends in St Kitts and Nevis:

  • Why had the St Kitts programme in recent months come under such international scrutiny?
  • What was the issue about the funds that had been collected re the sale of the passports and
  • Why was the St Kitts government now trying to get out of the deal?

I was and still am really grateful to him for sharing his insights and his view from ‘up close and personal.’ He concluded by agreeing that ‘a well-managed Economic Citizenship Programme could be a good thing.’ I wonder what he thinks now.

  1. Henley and Partners and the Citizenship by Investment Programme, Malta:

Henley and Partners is also running a very lucrative citizenship by investment programme in Malta. Some persons in Malta are paying very close attention to what is happening not only in Malta but in the Caribbean. One such person is journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in her column, Running Commentary. A most interesting article by this journalist of February 2014 headlined: “The point we’re all missing: Henley & Partners now has a vested commercial interest in keeping Labour in power against all odds”[7]. The article notes that there is speculation by some in Malta as to whether Henley and Partners financed the successful campaign of the Labour Party that was returned to government in 2014. She makes the point that Henley and Partners has a vested interest in ensuring that the incumbent government is re-elected in 2018:

  • The incumbent Labour government had removed the restriction on the number of passports being sold and
  • if the opposition came to power, it would terminate the programme.

She concludes by questioning what guarantees are there that Henley & Partners will not interfere, directly or indirectly, in the electoral process when its business is built on the distortion and exploitation of democratic processes and solutions.

This article may be dated 2014 but it was intended to be a wake-up call to Maltese citizens and should also have we the people in deep reflection, asking many questions.

  1. Henley and Partners, St Lucia:

Next door in St Lucia, in a press release[8] of 27 April 2016 the St Lucia Labour Party responded to criticisms by Henley & Partners representative in St Lucia leveled against the Citizenship by Investment Programme introduced by St Lucia Labour Party administration. In contrast with the IMF which “welcomed the emphasis on transparency in the governing legislation, noting that the highest integrity standards could help prevent abuses of the programme,” the Henley and Partners representative leveled criticisms of a lack of transparency.

The press release described the article by Henley’s Managing Partner as “a shameless attempt to engage in regime change in the region for the purpose of winning CIP contracts.”

The press release noted that Henley and Partners had participated in the tendering process but was not awarded the exclusive, global contract that they wanted and questioned whether a former UWP government had made commitments to Henley and Partners to award them the full, exclusive and global rights for a CIP if it had remained in government? The press release also questioned whether Henley and Partners was a sponsor of the UWP election campaign?

  1. What Does It Mean:

In general, we the people have not paid much attention to the Citizenship by Investment Programme. There is a lack of transparency, and various amendments since the Act was passed in 2013 has contributed to the programme becoming more and more opaque. Our passport and citizenship are now mere commodities traded on the global market to the mega rich and sometimes questionable. The country gets the crumbs of sale while international agents pocket huge commission and fees.

Henley and Partners are ‘in town.’ It would do us well to learn from the experiences and concerns of other countries pertaining to the Henley and Partners actions and conduct to protect and expand its ‘vested interest’ in the passport business. In Grenada, the election bell has been rung. Given the allegations and speculations surrounding Henley and Partners, its connection to SCR and national elections, let us not miss the point (as Daphne Caruana Galizia is counselling her Maltese compatriots) and learn from our very own Hamlet Mark who has seen it ‘up close and personal.’

TO BE FORWARNED IS TO BE FOREARMED!

STAND UP FOR GRENADA!

 

[1] http://rijock.blogspot.com/2017/08/applicant-for-grenada-diplomatic.html

[2]  “Grenada’s Denials Are Too Little, Too Late And Inaccurate” accessed at http://rijock.blogspot.com/2017/08/grenadas-denials-are-too-little-too.html

[3] https://www.artoncapital.com/industry-news/grenada/grenada-cbi-adopts-new-changes/

[4] Henley & Partners appointed to revitalize Grenada’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program  For immediate release: Monday 7 November 2016, London)

[5] http://www.cbi.gov.gd/grenada-citizenship/marketing-agents/

[6] http://caribupdate.blogspot.ca/2012/03/selling-passports-version-20.html

[7] https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2014/02/the-point-were-all-missing-henley-partners-now-has-a-vested-commercial-interest-in-keeping-labour-in-power-against-all-odds/

[8] Statement by Henley and Partners politically motivated at https://www.stlucianewsonline.com/statement-by-henley-and-partners-politically-motivated-says-slp/

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3 Comments on "Keeping an Eye on the People’s Business: Spotlight on Henley and Partners: Citizenship by Investment Programme, Diplomatic Passports and General Elections"

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allan taylor
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allan taylor

This comment system sucks! I tried to post a substantive comment earlier and it has been lost. I am beginning to wonder if that is why important subjects like this never seem to have any comments, except now and then a few “light” facebook comments.

I suspected that this would happen and the system did not allow me to make a copy of the text that I had written. I give up!

The Grand Poobah
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The Grand Poobah

It is amazing that, with such an important subject to the futures of all Grenadians and so well presented, it has not yet garnered one substantial comment!. However, I tried to do so yesterday and thought I had submitted but the process was never completed and my comment was lost as I did not seem to be able to make a copy of what I had offered. In a way, this post is also a test of the commenting system, to determine whether yesterday was a one off occurrence or perhaps I had made a mistake in the process

The Grand Poobah
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The Grand Poobah

This is a very well presented piece on a subject that should be worrisome to all Grenadians as it is patently undermining the value of a Grenada Passport. Much like Canada has recently removed visa free visitations on Dominicans and which I believe they had already done for Grenadians years ago, it will eventually become very difficult to travel to most desirable destinations on a Grenada Passport.

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