St. Kitts and Nevis says Hushpuppi became citizen of the country by marriage

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis says Hushpuppi became a legal citizen of the country by marrying another citizen.

In a statement on Monday, by Les Khan, CEO, Citizenship By Investment Unit, in the office of the Prime Minister, said claims that the alleged fraudster obtained the citizenship by investment option is false.

The government said Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, married Shawana Nakesia Chapman, a 32-year-old citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis by birth in Nigeria in 2018.

The statement reads:

"The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has become aware of reports and rumors concerning the Federation’s citizenship of a Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, allegedly a person of interest to the United States FBI.

"We note that the Nigeria-born Mr. Abbas, 37, was granted a St. Kitts and Nevis passport in February 2020 by virtue of his marriage to Shawana Nakesia Chapman, 32, a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis by birth and the United States of America.

"Ms. Chapman, a resident of North Carolina, USA, married Mr. Abbas in Nigeria in October 2018, thereby conferring him with the right to St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship.

"Any suggestion that citizenship was obtained through means other than marriage – such as the country’s Citizenship by Investment program, which includes rigorous background checks – is therefore utterly false and willfully misleading."

Khan’s clarification came following speculation that Hushpuppi may have acquired his St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment.

The St. Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program is the oldest of its kind in the world.

Established in 1984, the program grants citizenship through donation or real estate investment to qualified applicants.

The government requires an investment of either a minimum donation of $150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) or an investment of $400,000 in real estate plus related government and due diligence fees.

With his St. Kitts passport, he would have been able to gain visa-free access to 156 countries and territories.

Hushpuppi, who is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a US prison in Chicago, was arraigned and charged with “conspiracy to commit money laundering”.

Although the money laundering charge brought against Hushpuppi doesn’t make him a convict y, lawyers involved in the case say he risks a statutory maximum of 20 years jail if adjudged guilty.

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