PWM’s Financial Times studio has hosted a special episode in collaboration with the leading Due Diligence firms on the topic “The Mechanics of Due Diligence, World in Crisis: Securing Citizenship by Investment,” there were three of the firms that have participated in the panel discussion, which was joined by Yuri Bender, who is the Editor in Chief, the Financial Times journalist at the FT’s PWM magazine.
The discussion was held between Eddy Leviten- Chief Operating Officer of FACT Worldwide, Karen Kelly- Director of Strategy and Development at EXIGER, and Heyrick Bond Gunning -Chief Executive Officer of S-RM.
The Director of Strategy and Development at EXIGER, Karen Kelly, mentioned about the importance of carrying out extensive checks on the applicants. A host nation engages a third-party due diligence agency to make sure thorough checks upon applicants. According to her, the scrutinization includes comprehensive document verification, criminal background checks, on-ground examinations and asking questions to the people who know the individual.
Moreover, Kelly has more than a decade of experience in the Due-Diligence & Citizenship and Residency by Investment.
Kelly highlighted that the host country must take a very detailed view of the investor for accurate information on who they are and their backgrounds.
While outlining the importance of the due diligence process in the residency and citizenship by the investment programmes, Karen Kelly of EXIGER said that the deep information checks help understand the source of funds an applicant is utilizing for investment purposes.
Along with this, while talking about the major Citizenship by Investment Programmes in the Caribbean, she asserted that they fulfil the international standards as well as pay the key attention to the procedures of the Due Diligence.
Karen added, “The programmes in Caribbean countries are not only meeting the minimum standards but also carrying out different levels of due-diligence process in a very effective manner, for which they also engage with regional, national and international law enforcement.”
The Chief Operating Officer of FACT Worldwide has explained how an application is examined or inspected closely through different databases.
Eddy Leviten stated, “We cross-check the credentials and documents via many different databases; the multilayered due diligence process is performed with accuracy and sharpness. We check up all the records of the person involving birth, marriage, and other educational qualification as well as employment of the family.”
Meanwhile, Leviten outlined that the main applicate, along with their dependents, undergoes the same background checks. Later on, the checks are carried out in-depth all across the applicants.
While mentioning about the need to conduct extensive and thorough due diligence on applicants, Eddy Leviten asserted, “We carry out the same level of investigation and checks for all the applicants and dependents based on the criteria that are given to us by the client country.”
An expert in KYC, fraud, due diligence, content protection, and business intelligence, Eddy Leviten also underlined that some countries use two different due diligence agencies for better safety as well as cross-referencing.
Over and above that, he said that once the background checks are completed, a comprehensive report is prepared, which is similar to a person’s biography because it includes every single detail of them.
Leviten put it into words that, “We don’t make the final decision, we just return the report back to the client, and it’s ultimately upon them, whether they approve the citizenship or not.”
Furthermore, the CEO of SR-M, Heyrick Bond Gunning, talks over the usual challenges as well as the red flags in the due diligence. He said that one of the major red flags is when the individual does not work in the sector from which they acquired the primary source of wealth.
Gunning added to the statement, “There are various issues that we see that we flag to our clients (host countries).”
At the time of the panel discussion, Gunning has also concentrated on the significance of the Due Diligence in the Citizenship by Investment Programme. He began 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 shared some of his career experiences during the panel discussion.
Additionally, he mentioned that the strictness of the checks of the CI application has been showing an upward trend over the last some years.
The CEO of SR-M went on to say that “Applicants also go through checks by the agents before being put through the unit, sometimes, there are double-checks by two companies, and then they are put through security services in the country and in a broader base as well. The ongoing monitoring is critical.”
Gunning accentuated that in spite of the challenges that have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean nations have continuously remained committed to the robust due diligence processes. He mentioned that the CBI units of the Caribbean countries have become more focused on their operation and how they are working on themselves to become more well-organized.
On the other hand, the Caribbean Island nations make all the effort to make sure that all of the applicants undergo a strong and detailed due diligence process despite their small size.
Moreover, these nations assure the safety as well as security of their citizens. They make them their first priority. The moral commitment to the global world community is also high on the priority list for Caribbean countries offering citizenship by investment programmes.
The Due Diligence process of Caribbean nations is well detailed, strong as well as meets all of the international standards of safety and protection. The Third-party due diligence organizations, both regional and international entities concerned with crime detection, must check all supporting papers as part of the process. The openness of these programmes contributes to the CBI’s high standards.