Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Press Conference last week, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Garth Wilkin, said it was time for the illicit industry, which began in 2019, to end.
“We are finalising new marriage verification regulations very shortly under the Citizenship Act,” he said. “Marriage verification officers will be assigned to monitor and interview applicants to determine whether a marriage is valid and persons are not getting married simply for the purpose of citizenship, which is a breach of our Citizenship Act.”
He continued: “We discovered a widespread black market industry where citizens of St Kitts and Nevis were being paid as low as 850 dollars and as much as 10,000 dollars to marry non-nationals who then obtained their citizenship the next day.”
One of the most highlighted instances of sham marriages in St Kitts and Nevis involved convicted Nigerian fraudster Ramon “Hushpuppi” Abbas.
The US Justice Department said Abbas used US$50,000 from the money he stole from a businessman to fraudulently acquire St Kitts and Nevis citizenship and a passport through a sham marriage.
In November 2022, the St Kitts and Nevis Government said it was examining how it can revoke Abbas’ citizenship.