Professional Wealth Management (PWM)’s Financial Times Studio organised an interactive session on “The Mechanics of Due Diligence, World in Crisis: Securing Citizenship by Investment.” The session was hosted by the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine – Yuri Bender.
During the session, the host was joined by the representatives of the three major due diligence agencies. The interactive session witnessed the discussion between Chief Operating Officer of FACT Worldwide- Eddy Leviten, Director of Strategy and Development at EXIGER- Karen Kelly, and Chief Executive Officer of S-RM – Heyrick Bond Gunning. Karen Kelly, Director of Strategy and Development at EXIGER underlined the significance of the extensive checks for the security of the host country.
She added that it is important for the host country to conduct an in-depth look at the applicant, which would provide all the required information about their background and to do the same due-diligence procedure is the best.
Kelly stated that the agencies assist the countries in verifying the applications of every applicant. Agency helps in the scrutinisation of their profiles, including personal documents, financial documents, and criminal backgrounds, by using on-the-ground intelligence resources by asking questions to people who know the individual.
She further stated that the Caribbean countries are actively involved in the due-diligence procedures, and despite being small island countries, they follow all international standards.
While highlighting the CBI Programme if the Caribbean countries, Kelly mentioned, “It not only involves the third party due to diligence agencies but also engages with the regional and international law enforcement, intelligence partners to gather information. They are also mandating immigration agents and marketing agents to carry out KYC- Know Your Customer, which is a significant step.”
She also outlined that the due diligence agencies do not participate in approving or disapproving the citizenship applicant.
Leviten stated that the due-diligence is the major procedure performed in the process of obtaining Citizenship by Investment. He stated that CBI Programme is a haven for the investors who want to provide a secure environment for their families distant from the war zones.
He further stated that to take care of the safety and security of the host country, the due-diligence firms carry multi-layered background checks on the applicants. Leviten also outlined that the applicants and their dependents, both, undergo the same level of scrutinisation so that security is not compromised.
Chief Operating Officer of FACT Worldwide also added that the agencies carry out multi-layered checks for cross-referencing from different international databases. He stated that the agencies go through as many records as possible, including country of birth, marriages, and deaths of family members, educational qualifications, employment.
After conducting all the checks, if there is any red flag, the firm quickly notifies the client.
He emphasized that the agencies also crosscheck the relationship chart of both – applicants and dependents. It also examines their associates to find whether they are in a family or business.
FACT representative further stated that the (due diligence) process is robust, stringent as well as rigid, and “If you are a master criminal looking to avoid prosecution in a country, then this isn’t a route for you,” he continued.
Leviten clarified that the agencies’ role ends after the submission of the report to the client. He stated that after performing all the background checks, the report is delivered to the client, and then the client decides whether the applicant will attain citizenship or not.
CEO of SR-M Heyrick Bond Gunning also shared details about the common red flags given by the due-diligence firms. He underlined that “one of the major red flags is when the individual doesn’t work in the sector from which they derived the major source of wealth. There are a variety of issues that we see that we flag to our clients (host countries).”
He also informed that the CBI application checks had been tightened over the past few years. He stated that sometimes the applications undergo double-checks by two third-party due diligence firms for a precise result. “The ongoing monitoring is critical,” said CEO of SR-M Heyrick Bond Gunning.
In regards to the Caribbean country, Gunning stated that the countries faced a lot of challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they remained did not let the quality of the due-diligence process fall.
About panelists –
Eddy Leviten has been working for around 30 years in the field of creative industries, retail, enforcement and policy. Before joining FACT, Eddy worked as the Associate Member of the Investment Migration Council.
Karen Kelly has 10 years of experience in due diligence and Citizenship & Residency by Investment (CRBI). She also manages the development of specialised due diligence training programs.
Heyrick Bond Gunning was behind the DHL’s operations in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War. He started the career in the British Army, where he served for five years.
The due-diligence process by Caribbean countries –
Countries in the Caribbean region have been working diligently to ensure that the due diligence process is robust, strict and transparent. As safety and security are the utmost priority of the Caribbean countries, the due diligence undertaken is often comprehensive and strong.