FIU Director clarifies diligence process

Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Director Floyd Mera has shed light on the due diligence process involved in the Vanuatu Citizenship Program (VCP) in response to the Daily Post news article with the headline “Six Chinese Face Deportation” concerning six Chinese nationals on Saturday 29th June 2019 which was commented on social media.

“I wish to provide some clarification on the due diligence process involved in the VCP and hopefully highlight the transparency and integrity of the process,” Director Mera stated.

“As provided for under the Citizenship Regulation Order No.33 of 2019, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is required to assist the Citizenship Screening Committee with final due diligence checks on potential applicants.

Prior to this, Development Support Program (DSP)/VCP Agents conduct the frontline due diligence by understanding the background of the applicants and the source of funds.

This includes reviewing police clearance for any past criminal convictions.

DSP/VCP Agent-approved applications including valid passport, police or judicial clearance, Curriculum Vitae (VC) and any such requested documents are then submitted to the FIU where the due diligence process must be completed within 48 hours and a written finding to the Citizenship Screening Committee.

“Although the Citizenship Regulation only requires FIU to check for criminal conviction, FIU utilises several globally reputable screening servers in its due diligence process where these servers not only access the INTERPOL database or past criminal conviction records but also global blacklisting, sanctions, financial disqualification, corporate solvency, terrorism, individual bankruptcy and political-affluent persons,” the FIU Director said.

“To ensure that our Citizenship Program remains globally competitive, great reliance is placed on the screening serves however; FIU understand that the servers may not be foolproof. In mitigating this factor, FIU has employed an effective ongoing monitoring of all successful applicants in the Program.

“This includes annual internal re-screening of citizens and promptly sharing its findings with the Citizenship Commission, Vanuatu Immigration Services and other relevant authorities.

“In response to the Chinese nationals, FIU received their applications with supporting documents in late February 2019. Our due diligence process concluded with no adverse record found against their respective names.

“However, in June 2019, the Chinese Law Enforcement Agency informed Vanuatu Authorities of their criminal investigation into the six Chinese nationals that commenced in March 2019.

“As such, our due diligence process conducted in February 2019 could not identify the criminal investigation as the investigation only commenced in March 2019 or the investigation was, at that time, covert.”

FIU then responded to the request and promptly notified the VCP.

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