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EU Scrutinizes Dominica’s Citizenship-by-Investment Amid Caribbean Regulatory Review



The European Commission is spearheading a thorough review of “golden passport” regulations that permit visa-free entry to the European Union (EU), following the disclosure that five Caribbean nations, Dominica included, have collectively distributed 88,000 such passports. Of these, Dominica’s share stands at 34,500 sales.

Recent scrutiny surrounds golden passports, with a report unveiled on Wednesday recommending several amendments to the European Parliament. A notable suggestion is simplifying the process for the EU to revoke visa-free privileges from nations offering citizenship to foreign applicants.

At present, the EU employs a “suspension mechanism” allowing member states to momentarily suspend visa-free privileges for particular countries, especially in cases of irregular migration surges or perceived security threats. However, given the potential hazards tied to Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programs — such as public policy threats, organized crime involvement, money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption — the Commission is keen on streamlining the visa suspension procedure.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, voiced concerns on Thursday regarding nations selling passports at fairly low prices to individuals potentially posing security threats to the EU.

This regulatory examination closely follows the unveiling of “Dominica: Passports of the Caribbean,” a joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Government Accountability Project, and several media outlets. The probe revealed a longstanding practice of Dominica selling its citizenship with scant oversight. Alarmingly, some recipients of this citizenship had prior criminal investigations or convictions. A few even became fugitives in their home countries post-acquiring Dominican documents.

Although not all golden passport holders partake in criminal endeavors — many are former and current government officials without any allegations — their designation as “politically exposed persons” necessitates a deeper probe.

The European Commission report underlined a lack of stringent applicant tracking in Caribbean CBI programs. Furthermore, the five Caribbean nations — Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Dominica — provide options for identity alteration post citizenship acquisition through investment. With low rejection rates and rapid processing times, questions loom over the effectiveness of security vetting.

The precise period over which Dominica issued the 34,500 passports, as noted in the Commission’s report, is unclear. This figure markedly overshoots the 7,700 names documented in the island’s public gazettes from 2007 to 2022, presumed to be the official record of new passport recipients.

Subsequent investigations by the OCCRP and the Guardian unearthed inconsistencies in Dominica’s reported passport issuance numbers and declared revenue from naturalization fees between mid-2016 to mid-2022. The EU’s findings lend weight to suspicions of Dominica underreporting numerous passport issuances.

Recently, the U.K. imposed visa requirements on Dominica travelers, highlighting apparent misuse of the CBI scheme.

Dominica’s government and its President, Roosevelt Skerrit, remained unresponsive to multiple inquiries from OCCRP and its allies before the investigation’s publication. Confronted with detailed queries, Skerrit held press briefings, unfoundedly accusing international journalists of accepting payments from his political rivals, and likening these journalists to “terrorists.”

Echoing the call for legislative adjustments concerning visa-free access, the European Commission underscored that EU entry should not be monetized by countries offering citizenship for investments. The report also posited that the EU should have the capability to withdraw visa exemptions from any third country running a CBI scheme devoid of a genuine connection to that country.

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USVI Community Pulse

New Parking Fee at Fort Christianvaern Starting Dec. 11



Beginning December 11, visitors to Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted, St. Croix, will need to pay a $10 daily parking fee, as announced by the National Park Service (NPS). This new automated payment system, located at the parking lot’s entrance, will facilitate payments exclusively via debit and credit cards, as cash transactions will not be available.

The NPS has implemented this fee to generate additional revenue, aimed at enhancing the overall experience for visitors. The funds collected will be strategically invested in improving the park’s facilities and infrastructure, contributing to a more enjoyable and well-maintained environment for all guests.

Parking will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. To ensure the safety and proper use of the parking lot, vehicles left after 5:00 p.m. may be towed at the owner’s expense, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the stipulated hours.

The NPS encourages the continued use of the parking lot at the Christiansted Historical site, highlighting its safety and convenience for both town and park visitors. They anticipate positive public cooperation with these changes.

For further inquiries or to address any concerns, individuals can contact Chief Ranger Gabriel Laurencin at [email protected] or call 340-773-1460 for assistance.

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USVI Community Pulse

St. Croix Prepares for Dazzling Christmas Boat Parade with Parking and Traffic Regulations



The picturesque island of St. Croix is abuzz with excitement as it gears up for the much-anticipated annual Christmas Boat Parade on Saturday, December 9. This festive highlight draws crowds to Christiansted’s scenic boardwalk, prompting the V.I. Police Department to enforce specific parking restrictions and road closures for a seamless event experience.

Key measures implemented by the VIPD in preparation for the parade, a cornerstone of St. Croix’s holiday celebrations, include:

  • A parking ban on Queen Cross Street, from Riddims to the Caravelle Casino, effective 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. (midnight). This measure is essential for vendor setup and smooth parade preparations.
  • King Street will also be subject to a no-parking policy from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. (midnight). This restriction encompasses the stretch from Florence Williams Library to Government House and includes the vicinity from Strand Lane (Purple Papaya) to King Street.

To ensure public safety and efficient traffic management, roadblocks will be in place at the intersection of King Street and King Cross Street (near the Library), commencing at 11:00 a.m. and lasting until midnight. Access during this time will be limited to vendors and officials associated with the Boat Parade Committee.

The Christmas Boat Parade is an iconic tradition in St. Croix, attracting thousands to the Christiansted boardwalk for a magical evening. The event is renowned for its display of intricately decorated boats, illuminating the night with festive lights, culminating in a stunning fireworks show.

The VIPD extends its gratitude to the community for cooperating with these traffic and parking arrangements, emphasizing their commitment to ensuring a safe, enjoyable holiday experience for all attendees.

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USVI Community Pulse

Ford Initiates Major Recall of Over 45,000 Vehicles Due to Door Latch Concerns



Ford Motor Company has begun issuing notices to owners of select models, specifically the 2015 Fiesta, 2016 Fusion, and the 2016 Lincoln MKZ, regarding a critical safety issue identified in these vehicles.

The company disclosed in mid-November the discovery of a defect in the door latches of certain vehicles. The defect involves a latch component that may break, potentially making the door difficult to secure or, in some cases, allowing it to open unexpectedly during travel.

Notably, some of these vehicles are known to have been sold and registered in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In response, Ford dealerships are conducting thorough inspections of the door latches on affected vehicles, with a directive to replace all four side door latches at no cost to the vehicle owner if they find any issues.

Vehicle owners who prefer immediate action rather than waiting for postal notifications can access further information by reaching out to Ford’s customer service at 1-866-436-7332 or contacting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

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