Canadian Don Myatt has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), which opened its doors on Monday.
Highly experienced, knowledgeable and credible were among the words used by Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer to describe him.
“He has accepted the offer to head the unit for a period of one year with the option to renew for a further year,” Spencer informed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The Canadian is said to have more than 38 years experience working with the foreign service in that country.
He served as immigration and consular officer, worked with immigrants and refugees at Canadian diplomatic missions overseas and held at least seven immigration assignments working in high impact regions such as India, China, Hong Kong and Thailand, among other positions.
Myatt holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Western Ontario and awards from the Professional Association of the Foreign Service for leadership of the Business Immigration Division.
The prime minister said the credibility of the new CEO is recognised by the United Kingdom, Canada and the US.
The appointment is meant to assuage concerns that those countries will impose visa restrictions on Antigua and Barbuda, much like Canada did with Grenada after passports were issued to individuals with questionable backgrounds through that country’s economic citizenship programme.
“[We had to get] a CEO, at least to initially start out, who was not only qualified and experienced but who can pass the bar and pass the test where the intentional community and foreign governments are concerned. The intention is to have somebody local who will be understudying and can take over from there,” Attorney General Justin Simon said.
The CIU is operating from the third floor in the ABI Financial Centre.
The office space – secured through a two-year lease from Redcliffe Holdings Limited – is being rented for $20,169 per month.
Aside from the CEO, the office is staffed with an operations compliance officer, project development officer, financial comptroller, compliance officer, operations clerk, and secretary to the CEO.
Spencer said government is in the process of appointing overseas service providers as well as international due diligence providers.
He further revealed that international consulting firm Henley and Partners is no longer operating under the November 7, 2012 agreement, but a new deal signed in June this year.
“This agreement provides for consultancy services to the government and CIU for a limited period of six months terminating at the end of December 2013….They’re knowledgeable but in order to avoid conflict of interest and so on, we restructured that arrangement,” Spencer said.
The CIP is expected to be launched “soon” with a special to jump-start the initiative.