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Henley & Partners denies allegations, protests Blitz report

Henley & Partners, Henley & Partners South Africa Ltd, OCCRP, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, South Africa, 

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Henley & Partners denies allegations, protests Blitz report

On behalf of Henley & Partners South Africa Ltd, Sarah Nicklin, Group Head of Public Relations has sent a rejoinder denying allegations brought against the company through a report titled ‘Henley & Partners sought to sway Caribbean politics’ published on March 25, 2022.

In the email, Sarah Nicklin has requested to remove the above-mentioned articled stating: “Please be aware that a large number of details and facts in this OCCRP story are false and incorrect. I have attached our statement in this regard, based on which, I would ask that you please remove the defamatory article immediately”.

We are no aware if Henley & Partners had protested the original report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

What is OCCRP?

As an investigative reporting platform for a worldwide network of independent media centers and journalists, OCCRP is reinventing investigative journalism as a public good. In the face of rising costs and growing threats to independent media, OCCRP provides media outlets and journalists with a range of critical resources and tools including digital and physical security and allows those covering the most sensitive topics to work in teams with trusted editors.

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While upholding the highest journalistic ethics and editorial standards, OCCRP develops and deploys cutting-edge tech tools to enable collaborative, secure data-driven investigations. With OCCRP Aleph, an investigative data platform powered by software we developed, journalists can search and cross-reference more than three billion records to trace criminal connections and patterns and efficiently collaborate across borders.

OCCRP also partners with advocacy groups, arming civil society with information to meaningfully press for justice and change, and unearths evidence that enables law enforcement to act.

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In its rejoinder, Henley & Partners South Africa Ltd said:

We strongly reject all the allegations and inferences about the firm’s business practices contained in the three articles published on 18 March 2022. Moreover, what is presented here is not new, and in some cases dates back as far as 2006. The allegations have already been thoroughly investigated by international media as well as by several relevant authorities in the UK and elsewhere. No evidence of wrongdoing has ever been found.

The numerous accounts are furthermore based on partial, selective, and possibly even forged information and documents taken out of context, resulting again in tendentious interpretations of both the firm’s and Dr Christian Kalin’s business conduct more than a decade ago.

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We have offered to meet in person with the OCCRP team to share concrete and confidential documentary evidence that conclusively invalidates false assumptions and allegations and proves that there was no wrongdoing on our behalf. Very regrettably, and to our surprise and disappointment, OCCRP has declined our repeated offer to meet and see such evidence.

As the leading international residence and citizenship by investment firm, Henley & Partners is deeply aware of its responsibility to clients and sovereign states, and the integrity of the global financial system, to ensure that the highest standards of conduct and integrity are upheld. We have invested considerable time and capital in creating a corporate structure that is wedded to best practice governance and the highest levels of due diligence, even before passing a client over to the consideration of a sovereign state.

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Henley & Partners and its Chairman, Dr Christian Kalin, have never interfered in political campaigns, nor donated to political parties. The firm’s interests and business activities are, and always have been, focused on working with governments to establish (or improve) citizenship or residence by investment programs.

Henley & Partners signed a mandate with the St. Kitts and Nevis government in 2006 to revise and relaunch its citizenship by investment program – more than three years prior to the election in 2010. There was another election in 2015 but our contract was terminated well before that, in 2013. Logically, therefore, insinuations that there was a connection in any way between any government mandate and any election simply do not make any sense.

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At no point was SCL involved or connected in any way to the citizenship by investment government mandate granted to Henley & Partners by the St. Kitts and Nevis government in 2006, or any other government mandate, anywhere.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the countries who offer investment migration programs to investigate and vet applicants. As a private company, we are neither required by law to do so, nor do we have access to the same level of background, contacts, or resources that government authorities have. Even so, our stringent due diligence processes are well-documented and significantly more advanced than any other investment migration firm, and they do regularly result in the rejection of potential clients.

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Investment migration is a longstanding form of both sovereign investment demand generation and a catalyst for economic growth and diversification. Indeed, through its pioneering work in the Caribbean over a decade ago, Henley & Partners has driven significant financial and societal benefit for numerous sovereign states through the programs that it has both helped develop and those promoted to international investors – including and in particular St Kitts and Nevis.

In another report titled ‘Exposing foggy Caribbean business of Henley & Partners’, which has not been protested by Henley & Partners, it was reported:

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“Citizenship planning” company Henley & Partners helped a bevy of high-risk clients gain citizenship in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. It routed donations to a public fund that stopped operating after it made bad investments in two ventures linked to Henley’s chairman.

The Belle Mont Farm resort lies nestled in the foothills of a dormant volcano, surrounded by 400 acres of organic farmland and tropical forest in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Fruit trees hung with “pick me” signs flank “the world’s most edible golf course” and boutique cottages where guests can enjoy sweeping sea views for prices up to $875 per night.

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The getaway is located on fertile land once covered in sugar cane, so it’s fitting that Belle Monte was one of the first projects to receive funds from the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or SIDF, a bank-owned investment body set up in 2006 to move the island economy away from dependence on sugar. It was funded with money paid to St. Kitts by wealthy investors seeking citizenship, since a substantial cash donation to the SIDF qualified them for a passport.

Belle Mont Farm is part of Kittitian Hill, a tourism project that received over $7.9 million from the SIDF from 2010 to mid-2013 through its holding company, Belmont Resorts. The SIDF poured so much money into Belmont that it was its primary shareholder by 2010.

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But the investment was a failure. Although Kittitian Hill was envisioned as an array of hotels, villas, and restaurants due to open in 2013, all of it but Belle Mont Farm remained unfinished in 2020. The holding company fell into debt as the project repeatedly missed construction targets.

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris criticized the SIDF’s exposure to the failing project in 2016, and said the foundation was “never intended to be in the hotel business.” But it was not the foundation’s only misstep, and — despite some early promise — by 2014 its contributions to the economy were declining. Three years later, the government decided to stop allowing would-be citizens to make payments to SIDF in exchange for a passport…

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Contents published under this byline are those created by the news team of BLiTZ

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