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Grenada targets UHNWs with investor visa programme

24/02/2016 Karen Gilchrist

Grenada, known affectionately as the ‘Isle of Spice’, has opened its shores to “discerning” investors who are as interested in embracing its Caribbean culture as they are in its global reach.

Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers visa-free access to approximately 120 countries, including China and E2 visa access to the US, as well as an attractive tax system and one of the fastest processing periods, at just 60 days.

However, when the programme was introduced in 2013, it was done so in a “calculated way”, said the High Commissioner of Grenada, Karl Hood, speaking at an introductory breakfast hosted by legal advisory firm CS Global Partners in London earlier this month (10/02/2016).

“We introduced the Citizenship by Investment Programme in a calculated way: we do not want to transform Grenada into another country and we strive to maintain its culture.”

Situated at the southern end of the Caribbean Sea, 12 degrees north of the Equator, Grenada is part of a tri-island state, which includes neighbouring islands Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Together, the islands have 75 miles of coastline, a total land area of 133 miles and a population of approximately 110,000.

It has active tourism, agriculture and light manufacturing industries, and is one of the world’s largest producers of nutmeg and mace products. Its currency is the Eastern Caribbean (EC) Dollar, which is pegged to the US Dollar; however, US currency is also accepted on Grenada as a normal currency, and as an incentive to wealthy foreigners, the island has no wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income or capital gains tax.

The programme seeks to extend the island’s global presence whilst providing a safe and attractive second citizenship for wealthy individuals and their families.

“In the past we didn’t push investment”, His Excellency admitted. “We didn’t have enough hotel rooms and had to subsidise airlines so they would visit. But now we have several large development projects underway, a new Chinese hospital and one of the best US offshore universities. Confidence has returned from an OECD perspective and we are well-poised as a country to go far.”

Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is available in two ways. Option one, the National Transformation Fund (NTF), seeks to raise capital to assist the government in financing various projects on the island. It is available for a minimum contribution of US$200,000, which covers a single applicant, a single applicant and their spouse, or a family of up to four members. Any additional dependants can be added at a cost of US$25,000 each.

Option two, investment in approved real estate projects, requires applicants to make a minimum investment of US$350,000 in designated real estate. Again, this minimum requirement is available for a family of up to four members. However, it is also subject to additional government fees of US$50,000 over and above the application, due diligence and processing fees required under each option.

As an increasing number of wealthy individuals seek to reassess their citizenship status to best meet regulatory and familial requirements, Micha Emmet, managing director of CS Global Partners, who also spoke at the event, referenced that it “would be irresponsible for high net worth individuals not to have more than one citizenship by 2020.”

Applicants to Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme must be at least 18 years old, of 'good character' and with no criminal record, pass a detailed background check and be able to provide proof of source of funds. They must first apply for citizenship through an authorised local agent and an authorised marketing agent, who will then submit the relevant forms to Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Committee (CBIC) and await its decision. There is no mandatory interview requirement.

“Grenada is quite a discrete country”, Ms Emmett continued, “and the CBIC is looking for the discerning investor. They want you to choose Grenada because you understand what a special place it is.

“For businessmen, investors and individuals who have a thirst to be part of the global community, something like the Grenada Citizenship Programme can be very useful; particularly with its interesting access to China, amongst other places. But this beautiful gem of a country offers opportunities over and above accessibility. It offers opportunities in terms of investment and also in terms of safety and security for the future of your family.”

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