St. Lucia Opposition pressures CIP chairman to resign

Dr Ernest Hilaire

The main Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is urging civil society to support calls for the resignation of Dr. Ernest Hilaire as the chairman of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

In a letter sent to civil society late last month and released to the media, UWP leader Allen Chastanet is also calling on the Kenny Anthony Government to explain its relationship with the foreign firm, Arton Capital, which he said is playing a significant role in the CIP.

St Lucia, like some Caribbean countries, has launched a CIP programme granting citizenship to foreign investors who make a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the island.

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In his letter, Chastanet wrote that “Arton Capital contract should be revoked in the interest of transparency or, at the very least, suspended and that the process for appointing marketing agents for the CIP be reopened”.

Regarding Hilaire, the Opposition leader said that the former St Lucia high commissioner to the United Kingdom is now a candidate of the ruling St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) to contest the general election later this year while he remains chairman of the CIP.

“It is now beyond doubt or speculation that the Labour Party is in control of the programme, and as such it loses all credibility of being independent and free from political interference. This should be unacceptable to all right-thinking St Lucians who care about their country and its international reputation,” Chastanet wrote.

“It is the actions of Dr Ernest Hilaire and the prime minister that now have people asking whether there is a special relationship between them and Arton Capital.

“For the reasons given, we are now seeking your support to ask, firstly, for Dr Hilaire’s immediate resignation as Chairman of the CIP,” the UWP leader wrote to the civil society groups.

He is also raising the appointment of Dr Walid Juffali as the island’s ambassador to the International Maritime Organisation.

“The United Workers’ Party once again asks you to support what is right and to speak out on issues of poor governance that are impacting negatively on St Lucia’s reputation in the regional and international community,” Chastanet wrote