Michael, speaking at the weekly Cabinet news conference, said someone had contacted Prime Minister Gaston Browne and himself while they were on a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Michael said the review by the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of the approved applications for 17 Iranians and two Yemenis has already started.
“There was a very reputable businessman who was given a contract by the former administration to develop the entire port and to have exclusivity of the management for the port. He brought to light certain evidence about these Iranian passports,” Michael said.
“We have no evidence that there were any nefarious activities or that any of these applicants were involved in any terrorist or money laundering activities, “ Michael said, noting that out of an “abundance of caution” the application files are to be vetted through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC).
He told reporters “any evidence that the CIU will provide…will be turned over to the police for investigation,” adding that the probe was “not a case of this government going on any political witch-hunt”.
He said it was simply a reaction to “evidence” that there may have been “intervention on their behalf by high-ranking United Progressive Party officials”.
Michael said that the 19 persons applied for citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) “prior to June of 2014” when the present Browne administration came into office.
Michael did not specify when the applications were approved.
Antigua and Barbuda is among several Caribbean countries that provides citizenship to foreign investors in return for them making significant investments in the socio-eceonomic development of the country.
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