After losing access to visa-free travel to Canada in 2014 over security concerns with the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship By Investment program, citizens now face the real possibility that the European Union may also revoke the federation’s visa-free travel waiver for the same reason.
Two Members of the European Parliament, one Dutch and one Portuguese, recently expressed in writing to the European Council, their concerns that illicit actors are using St. Kitts and Nevis passports gained through the CBI program to enter the EU based on the visa-free agreement.
They specifically named Andrei Pavlov, a blacklisted Russian who they claim managed to enter Europe over 70 times after he was banned from Europe using St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship, and that he was not the only one to have bypassed EU border security using this means.
As a result the MPs called on the highest EU officials to rescind visa-free travel for passport holders of St. Kitts and Nevis.
St. Kitts and Nevis Foreign Minister, Nevis Premier Mark Brantley says citizens have a right to be concerned about this development despite the fact that the EU MPs’ letter was based on inaccuracies in a May 24 article in the UK Guardian that implied Mr. Pavlov had acquired St. Kitts-Nevis citizenship through the CBI and used an SKN passport to enter the EU.
At a press conference Thursday, Premier Brantley stated unequivocally that Mr. Pavlov never applied for, nor was he granted citizenship for St. Kitts and Nevis, and therefore could not have entered the EU using a St. Kitts and Nevis passport.
“Two members of the European Parliament…out of 751…wrote to the EU saying that St. Kitts and Nevis’s visa-free access should be revoked. That is something that should alarm all of us. They said it should be revoked because there’s a man named Andrei Pavlov who they claimed obtained citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis and used that visa-free access to travel within the European Union over 70 times- sounds pretty alarming on its face.
“It turns out that this whole letter from the MPs to the EU and the subsequent article from the Guardian Newspaper based on that letter that the MPs wrote flowed from some leaked emails- apparently somebody’s email was hacked and some emails were obtained. Its turns out that a law firm contacted me in 2014, they did not indicate who their client was, they simply said they had a client interested in citizenship by investment. I have not practiced law since 2013 when I became Deputy Premier. So when that colleague, a goof friend of mine got in touch with me saying he had a client that was interested I referred him to the law firm Daniel and Brantley where he would have normally done business.
“I want to make it pellucid that at no point have I met, conversed, had any association or contact with Mr. Pavlov or anyone else in that regard. I am advised, having checked with Daniel and Brantley that there was an exchange of messages between them and the firm and Mr. Pavlov where Mr. Pavlov asked for some information about citizenship by investment. They provided general information to him about the program and Mr. Pavlov never followed up; put differently, Mr. Pavlov never became a client of Daniel and Brantley. More than that Mr. Pavlov never applied for citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis and if he never applied then it follows logically that he was never granted nor obtained citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
St. Kitts and Nevis’ travel waiver agreement with the European Union allows citizens visa-free access to its 28 member countries including the UK, France, the Schengen Area and the Netherlands.
There has been no public response from the European Council on the issue since the MPs’ letters. While the Council is not one of the EU’s legislating institutions and therefore does not negotiate or adopt EU laws, it does set the EU’s policy agenda, traditionally by adopting ‘conclusions’ during European Council meetings which identify issues of concern and actions to take.
Premier Brantley says while the government of St. Kitts and Nevis has not formally written to the European Council on the matter, it hopes to do so expeditiously now that the EU elections have concluded.