Vanuatu: Special Task Force meant to handle CBI Programme fail to solve issues flagged by EU

Vanuatu: A special task force formed by Vanuatu to guide the government on steps to satisfy the European Commission has dramatically failed as no concrete actions have been taken so far by them to mitigate the concerns of the commission.

According to personnel in the Citizenship Commission of Vanuatu, the special task force is “good for nothing” as, since it’s establishment, they have not taken any step to strengthen the safety and security of the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Rather, the “lazy bone team is just sitting idle in Vanuatu.” 

Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, Bob Loughman had convened a meeting with Leaders of the Coalition government to address the concerns of the European Union, as the commission has recommended the suspension of visa-free agreement between Vanuatu and Europe. 

Citizenship Commission (CBI Unit) revealed that Prime Minister officially announced that he had written to the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, assuring her Vanuatu government’s commitment to addressing the EU’s concerns. It has been more than 20 days that the government has done nothing so far and is not only misleading the international community but the European Commission itself. 

There are a total of 11 countries which offer Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes across the world; out of these countries, 10 are well-known for carrying out due- diligence on all applicants. Surprisingly, Vanuatu is the only CBI Programme offering country that failed in vetting applicants. The lack of background checks and flat vetting procedure is among the reasons Vanuatu is facing criticism by the international community, not to mention the EU Commission and the UK embassies. 

Moreover, showing concerns over Russian oligarchs taking advantage of the ‘Golden Visa’ scheme, the UK is all set to revoke the investment scheme in the coming week, reports Sky News. Quoting a government source, it was said that UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is likely to close the scheme in a few days following concerns of the security in the UK. 

The news outlet added that Russia and China account for the majority of golden visa holders in the UK.

Many Russian oligarchs have bought properties in London, also termed as “Moscow on the Thames” by some, and many are known to maintain permanent residence there.

Many more Russian businessmen have become oligarchs under President Vladimir Putin than under past Russian presidents, with the President allowing them to keep their power in exchange for open support for him.

EU Commission: On January 12, 2022, The European Commission proposed partial suspension of the application of the agreement with the Republic of Vanuatu – which allows citizens of Vanuatu to travel to the EU without obtaining a prior visa for stays of up to 90 days. 

The commission states that the proposal was followed by Vanuatu’s investor citizenship scheme presents serious deficiencies and security failures. EU Commission pointed out four primary reasons behind the suspension of the visa-waiver agreement. 

According to the proposal of the EU Commission: the Council will now consider this proposal and decide whether to suspend the visa waiver agreement in part. It is necessary to keep the European Parliament informed. Vanuatu should be notified at least two months before the suspension is implemented if the Council votes to partially suspend the agreement. During the partial suspension, the commission must initiate a more intensive conversation with Vanuatu in order to eliminate or significantly reduce the security concerns to the EU and its Member States. The partial suspension should be revoked if Vanuatu takes significant measures to this end.

To which Vanuatu has failed to address. The government of Vanuatu had earlier consulted many international renowned firms to secure their CBI Programme and bring it to the international standards, but due to instability in the government, Vanuatu failed to address the concerns of the EU Commission. It is anticipated that the investor programme is likely to shut down.

Cronulla News has been at the forefront of providing new reports related to the Citizenship by Investment Programme of Vanuatu. Earlier, with our credible sources, we were able to understand the tumbling situation of the Citizenship Commission of Vanuatu and facilitated our readers with credible information. 

Cronulla News was the first to report that European Commission is considering a suspension of visa-free agreement with Vanuatu including several other warnings.

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