PWM’s FT studio has recently conducted a special episode on “The Mechanics of Due Diligence, World in Crisis: Securing Citizenship by Investment,” where representatives from three major due diligence firms took participation in a panel discussion. The modulator of the discussion was Yuri Bender, Editor in Chief, Financial Journalist at FT’s PWM Magazine.
Chief Operating Officer of the FACT Worldwide- Eddy Leviten, Director of Strategy and Development at Exiger- Karen Kelly, and Chief Executive Officer of S-RM Heyrick Bond Gunning were among the representatives. The panel discussion revolves around the significance of due diligence in the Citizenship by Investment programme.
Eddy Leviten, who has over thirty years of experience in the creative industries, retail and enforcement, added that due diligence firms carry out multi-layered checks on all applicants, including their dependents over the age of sixteen. He noted that the main applicant and its dependents have to go through the same level of scrutinization process even in case if they join later in the application.
Chief Operating Officer of FACT Worldwide further mentioned, “We apply the same level of background checks on dependents as well. We also look at the relationship chart of not just the applicant or dependents but also on their associates, whether they are in a business or within a family.”
He asserted that, “While carrying out the multi-layered process, the due diligence agencies do cross-checks on many of different databases. We check the records, including the country of birth, marriages, as well as the death of any of the family members, educational qualifications, employment, if there is any red flag, we quickly notify it to the client.”
While mentioning about the strong due diligence process, he said, “If you’re a master criminal looking to avoid prosecution in a nation, then this is not a route for you; there would be better ways for fraudsters to hide out their assets and more themselves around the globe.”
He noted that some countries offering Citizenship by Investment programmes hire two or more due diligence firms for cross-checking. Once the due diligence report is ready, it is the same as reading a person’s entire life story, as it contains all the details about the individual.
Leviten added that every nation understands that the due diligence has to have the highest possible standards. “We provide a report back to our clients; what the client does with the report is what determines if the applicant will be granted citizenship.”
Meanwhile, Director of Strategy and Development at EXIGER- Karen Kelly, who has over a decade of experience in due diligence and Citizenship and Residency by Investment, also noted the significance of carrying out extensive checks on the applicants. She said the host nation must take a very in-depth look at the investor to understand who they are and their backgrounds.
While highlighting the significance of the due diligence process in residency and citizenship by investment programmes, Karen Kelly of EXIGER said that extensive due diligence also helps in understanding the source of funds an applicant is using for investment purposes.
Notably, mentioning the major Citizenship by Investment Programmes in the Caribbean, she said that they meet the international standards and pay key attention to due diligence procedures. She added that, “The programmes in the Caribbean countries are not only meeting the minimum standards but also carrying out different levels of due-diligence process in a very effective way, for which they also engage with regional, national and international law enforcement.”
While referring to the Caribbean nations, she asserted, “It not only includes the third-party due diligence agencies but also engages with the regional and international law enforcement, intelligence agencies to collect information. They are also mandating immigration agents and marketing agents to carry out KYC-Know Your Customer, which is a significant step.”
Kelly said that, “The due diligence provider is not there to decide whether a person should be approved or not be approved for citizenship.”
CEO of SR-M Heyrick Bond Gunning mentioned the common challenges and red flags in due diligence. He stated that one of the major red flags is when the individual doesn’t work in the sector from which they derived the primary source of wealth. “There are various issues that we see that we flag to our clients (host countries),” he added.
During the discussion, Gunning also focused on the importance of due diligence in the CBI Programme. He started his career in the British Army; not only that, but he also set up DHL’s operations in Iraq during the end of the Gulf War. He also shared his experience during the panel discussion.
Moreover, several reports have also appreciated the stringent due diligence conducted by Caribbean nations. These nations ensure to keep the safety as well as security of their citizens as their topmost priority.
The due diligence undertaken by these nations is often thorough, extensive, solid, and meets all the international safety and security requirements.