Does Antigua and Barbuda have the most flawed Immigration system in the Caribbean?

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By Pallak Kashyap, TFIGlobal

Immigration Department of Antigua: The United Progressive Party (UPP) made these claims in the backdrop of charter flights arriving from Nigeria,  alleging that several passengers mysteriously changed their places of accommodation upon arrival in Antigua and Barbuda.

Responding to these claims, Immigration Department of Antigua stated that there were no irregularities in the system and added that all the passengers followed proper protocol. However, it acknowledged that a Nigerian national, who worked for the agriculture ministry and was assigned a government vehicle, did use a private vehicle to meet his friends.

Labelling the assertions made by the UPP as untrue, the Immigration Department of Antigua added that in the event of any of these visitors overstaying their visa requirements, it will swiftly take action and deport them.

Mehul Choksi and Antigua

Now, Let us tell you a story that explains the system’s failures.

There is an Indian businessman named Mehul Choksi, he is the owner of Gitanjali Group, a retail jewellery company. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi, defrauded a state-owned bank of about Rs 14, 000 crore in India.

Both Choksi and Modi, who are currently absconding, are wanted by the Indian agencies for criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, money laundering, corruption etc.

 

 

It turns out that Mehul Choksi was given citizenship by the government of Antigua and Barbuda. The Caribbean nation’s Citizenship by Investment (CIU) stated that he became an Antiguan citizen in November, 2017. Despite the Central Bureau of Investigation, a federal agency in India, sending multiple requests to Antigua and Barbuda for Choksi’s whereabouts, Gaston Browne’s regime has been extremely uncooperative.

On the contrary, Antigua’s government told the media that Choksi was granted citizenship after a careful scrutiny of his background. However, the CBI stated that it was never contacted by Antigua’s agencies for verification of Choksi’s background or criminal record for the purpose of citizenship.

It must be noted that Choksi was living in the US for a brief period and settled in Antigua soon after the Indian government started proceedings to get his custody.

Although the government of Antigua stated that it had revoked the citizenship of Choksi. But since he has filed a case in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda, the matter will be resolved in 2027. And even if the fugitive loses, then he can appeal in the Court of Appeals and later in the Privy Council of the UK.

Defects

Now, coming back to the claims made by the UPP against the Immigration Department of Antigua and Barbuda in the context of visitors from Nigeria.

It is true that there are serious flaws in the immigration system of Antigua. Its government’s highly unprofessional conduct in the case of Mehul Choksi, who perpetrated such an unprecedented financial crime in India, proves this.

If Antigua had a system with transparency and integrity as its hallmarks then it would not have granted citizenship to a disgraceful man like Choksi.

Browne’s administration stated that it did a complete search of Choksi’s background, if it had done so then it would have uncovered that even before the registration of the bank fraud case by the CBI, there were several criminal cases pending against him in Indian courts and would not have given him citizenship.

And with the recent charter flights from Nigeria controversy, the accountability of the immigration system of Antigua is once again in the news.

Unfortunately, the government has once again adopted an unaccountable approach in light of reasonable questions posed by the UPP regarding the security of the country.

Sadly, UPP will not get the answers to its queries, since Browne’s administration has refused to cooperate with the Indian government, which is trying day in and out to secure the custody of Choksi, let alone an opposition party.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. This article does not make sense! This article is just about POLITICS. The immigration department CANNOT control a visitor from changing place of accommodation. The most they can do is to verify that you had a booking at the intended accommodation on arrival.

    How many tourists make bookings at a hotel and then get disappointed and change accommodation? When you land in the USA, Canada, England etc, etc and you provide an intended address of a hotel or a family member, how many of us travel to other states and cities within the country and stay with other family members or otherwise?

    Is the writer aware than in many countries, you do not even have to go to an immigration officer, you can just use the E-gate. You just have to scan you passport, etc and the gate opens up – no need to even provide an intended address.

    We need to stop playing POLITICS and stop embarrassing our African Bothers and Sisters by taking their pictures and posting in the news. It is really demeaning – would you like to be treated that way when you visit another country?

    • Do these people look like tourists to you? Did the immigration department verify that they had the resources to cover their expenses for the duration of their visits. If some of them say they booked in places like Jumby Bay, immigration should know something is wrong. Did Antigua passports pay for their airfare? The Is it true that some of them have used stolen credit cards? Antiguans are tired of having people coming here with no vetting. What tourist are we talking about who have no money, no confirm reservations and buying one small tin of milk. These people look more like refugees to me. Wait and see if they claim asylum.

      • First of all, what does a tourist look like? When the hippy whites walk the streets, do they look like tourist to you? When you travel to other countries, do they ask you show much money you have? I have travelled to many countries, I show my passport and I am on my way.

        Again, when the white tourist come here, do you check their credit cards to see if they were stolen. Stop the nonsense please, your mind has been brainwashed. Try to visit Africa and you will be surprised to the highways and lifestyle that some of the Africans live. Yes, lots of poor people are there too but we also have lots of poor in the USA and England and elsewhere.

        • @JBF: In some Countries,visitors are asked to show monies. When I as a National return to Antigua.They asked me questions.Where am I staying.How long am I staying.The reason I believe for such questions is because I am using a foreign Passport.When I came in this year I had to tell the Immigration Officer.Look in my Passport place of birth Antigua and Barbuda.Some of the Immigration Officers,like to give returning Nationals a hard time.I often wondered why.While others walk right through without issues.In my opinion,there is too much hatred among the people living in Antigua at all levels.

      • Clown these Africans has more that 8000usd per person – y’all just need to stop the xenophobic crappy behavior. It even sounds racist at times – what defines a tourist?….. seems like the colour of a man’s skin or just the country he comes from.

  2. “Despite the Central Bureau of Investigation, a federal agency in India, sending multiple requests to Antigua and Barbuda for Choksi’s whereabouts, Gaston Browne’s regime has been extremely uncooperative.”
    This is the biggest lie in this story. Everyone knows that the Prime Minister has already given the undertaking that as soon as Choksi has exhausted his legal options he will be deported. A citizen cannot be deported without a court order. Leroy King fought his extradition for many years up to the Privy Council. In the end he still was deported after ten years of legal proceedings. And the PM had to tell the Americans the same thing. He cannot be extradited unless there is a court order. In Trinidad you have Mr. Jack Warner also went and challenged his extradition for years and lost it. https://globalvoices.org/2022/11/18/disgraced-former-fifa-vice-president-jack-warner-loses-us-extradition-appeal-but-trinbagonians-remain-sceptical/
    When you want to write stories for others to read, at least state the facts.
    But then again ANR would publish anything. They don’t care whether it is right or wrong. Truth or Lie

    • You political parasite @ From The Sideline.

      Even you can see that in recent days/weeks/months (and even hours) that the desperation of the ABLP is palpable; yet you fail to acknowledge their recent nefarious activities. It says a lot about your political stance in defending the indefensible when it is clear even to right thinking ABLP supporters that this type of NASTY politics isn’t right.

      Win an election by fair means, but what Gaston Browne is up to isn’t right.

      YOU POLITICAL WH%£E …

    • Why the heck was he given a passport in the first place? Either somebody was paid off or no due diligence was done. Is Antigua CIP a laundromat?

  3. Ms Yearwood is not fit for purpose or high office.

    She hasn’t responded to our concerns regarding all the missing illegals and has gone MIA (Missing In Action). Her position is now untenable because of her inaction. Again!

    Kick her out, Kick Gaston Browne out and most of all, turn up on 18th of January and DASH OUT the ABLP government.

    Remember, the country has ENDURED 50 years of this Birdism and Browneism nonsense!

    ANTIGUAN NATIONALS DESERVE BETTER …

  4. The Africans came on a chartered flight. What happens if the plane doesn’t return for them? Are there any direct flights from the Caribbean to Africa? They can’t intransit through the US, Canada or the USA as they will need visas which I doubt many of them have. In that case they would be here to stay. But then again this could be the intention.

    • That is the whole point of the Antigua Airways, to get direct flights between Africa and Antigua. However, politics is making a mess of the whole thing. However, some persons from Antigua will get a chance to visit Africa as well if it becomes a reality.

      Remember, we came here on a ship with no tickets.

  5. Immigration department was a mess under UPP. Foreigners like me got treated like criminals lining up outside for hours in town.
    Then you had a miserable police officer yelling at you and pushing you around like you robbed a bank. I Invested millions in Antigua already , employed many people, paying my taxes and contribute to the island in many ways. So yes immigration is now a million times better and better organized than anytime before! Full stop. The questionable Nigerians wondering around the island is a different story. Most of them are no vacationers and looking for work that we need for locals in a slowly recovering post covid economy. Everyone makes mistakes, this needs to be fixed! Okay Continue with all your ALP hate now and have a nice day…

    • Foreigner, you phucking lie.
      Continue with all your ABLP love.
      The honest people love Antigua and Barbuda.

  6. Jumbee_Picknee says…
    The current fiasco involving, Antigua Airways, the charters out of Africa and the movement, of the Africans gives off some questionable vibes, and it seems, as if we as citizens don’t have a right to question what is happening at our borders, on our streets and neighborhoods.

    So, here are a few questions…
    A…where are the women on these charters? Are they here looking wives/kipoman like a John Allen Mohamed?

    B…A percentage of tourist travel as a family, wife, husband, kids; so, are there any families of this type coming on these flights?

    This movement of the Africans directly into Antigua, at this point, on the eve of the elections has a look and feel of a military manoeuvre. So, are they here in a capacity, as private security, mercenaries, refugees, terrorists?

    De ‘ole Dutty Peg Foot Bastard

    Vere Cornwall Edwards

  7. YES. WRITER.
    Antigua and Barbuda has the most flawed immigration system in the WORLD.
    Thanks to Gaston Browne and the ABLP.
    They have turned A&B into a CARTOON country.
    Let’s remove the ABLP by any means necessary.

Comments are closed.