Archive | Business/Economy/Banking

Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published

by Juliette Garside
 
 
Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding $3bn (£2.3bn) citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity.In exchange for donations to a sovereign trust fund, or investments in property or government bonds, foreign nationals can become citizens of countries in which they have never lived. Other schemes, such as that operated by the UK, offer residency in exchange for sizable investments.Related: The staggering sums the super-rich pay to get a second passport. – and why(Lovemoney)

The price of the easiest way to a passport from another country: Over the past few decades, scores of countries have generated billions by offering the opportunity for people to buy a passport, something many super-rich people have been all too keen to take advantage of. We take a look at what it costs to buy residency in some of the world's richest countries and why these schemes have been controversial.

The programme operated by Malta is particularly popular because as a European member state its nationals, including those who buy citizenship, can live and work anywhere in the EU. The country has, since 2014, sold citizenship to more than 700 people, most of them from Russia, the former Soviet bloc, China and the Middle East.

But concern is growing among political leaders, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the schemes are open to abuse by criminals and sanctions-busting business people.

Transparency International and Global Witness, in a joint report published last week, described how the EU had gained nearly 100,000 new residents and 6,000 new citizens in the past decade through poorly managed arrangements that were “shrouded in secrecy”.

 

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Also on the OECD blacklist are a handful of Caribbean nations that pioneered the modern-day methods for the marketing of citizenship. These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which has sold 16,000 passports since relaunching its programme in 2006.

After analysing residence and citizenship schemes operated by 100 countries, the OECD says it is naming those jurisdictions that attract investors by offering low personal tax rates on income from foreign financial assets, while also not requiring an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the country.

Related: Countries the super-rich are moving to… and leaving (Lovemoney)

Citizenship for sale: Many countries have turned against immigration in recent years, but one group of migrants appear immune to the trend. Figures suggest the super-rich are more mobile than ever before. More open economies, the ease of working digitally abroad and special citizenship or "golden visa" schemes for the wealthy helped record numbers leave their home countries last year. Here are the favored destinations of the world’s elite, and the countries that some are leaving behind.

Second passports can be misused by those wishing to “hide assets held abroad”, according to the thinktank. Its flagship initiative is a framework for countries to cooperate in the fight against tax evasion by sharing information. Known as the Common Reporting Standard, the framework allows for details of bank accounts an individual might hold abroad to be sent to their home tax office.The OECD believes the ease with which the wealthiest individuals can obtain another nationality is undermining information sharing. If a UK national declares themselves as Cypriot, for example, information about their offshore bank accounts could be shared with Cyprus instead of Britain’s HM Revenue and Customs.

“Schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction of tax residence,” the OECD warned.

The final names on the list are Bahrain, Colombia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of avoidance through the use of such schemes, by making sure that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.

NOW SEE: World’s most (and least) corrupt countries revealed – where does the UK rank?(Lovemoney)

Good country, bad country: More than two-thirds of the world's countries have a serious corruption problem. From blatant bribery and rigged elections to embezzling public funds and intimidating or even bumping off political opponents and journalists, unethical dealings run rife across the planet. Using the latest data from Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), we count down the world’s least and most corrupt places.

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Two Governments, Bahamas, Barbados deny country blacklisted by OECD

Two Governments, Bahamas, Barbados deny country blacklisted by OECD

 

NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct 17, CMC – The Bahamas government says it “strongly refutes” media reports that the country has been blacklisted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“This report is false and misleading,” the Ministry of Finance said, noting that the OECD Tuesday published a report that includes a list of jurisdictions around the world, including The Bahamas, which operate Citizenship by Investment (CBI) or Residence by Investment (RBI) programmes.

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest (File Photo)

The government insists that “this report is not a blacklist” and added that representatives of the Ministry of Finance, who are currently attending meetings in Paris, met with the Head of the OECD International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, which published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list as a blacklist is completely inaccurate. The Bahamas is under no obligation to take any measures to change its investment schemes. “

The statement noted that in The Bahamas, Economic Permanent Residency gives the individual the right to reside permanently in The Bahamas and travel freely to and from the country unless status is revoked. It said that the programme does not confer citizenship or the right to be gainfully employed in the country and that it also does not confer tax residency and the individual must still comply with the tax laws of their country of origin.

“The second home market in The Bahamas is a valuable source of investment in the country and promotes economic and cultural diversity. The Bahamas continues to welcome global citizens to our majestic shores to experience the stunning beauty of the islands and the rich culture of our people.

“This includes opportunities for second home owners to invest in The Bahamas and to enjoy the quality of life that our islands afford,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

The OECD said Tuesday that the Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, “can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” it said.

The OECD said therefore and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is publishing the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

It said that potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

“Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

“Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of CRS avoidance through the use of such schemes,” the OECD said, noting “in particular, where there are doubts regarding the tax residence(s) of a CBI/RBI user, the OECD has recommended further questions that a financial institution may raise with the account holder”.

The OECD said that moreover, a number of jurisdictions have committed to spontaneously exchanging information regarding users of CBI/RBI schemes with all original jurisdiction(s) of tax residence, which reduces the attractiveness of CBI/RBI schemes as a vehicle for CRS avoidance.

“Going forward, the OECD will work with CRS-committed jurisdictions, as well as financial institutions, to ensure that the guidance and other OECD measures remain effective in ensuring that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.”

Barbados also denies being blacklisted by OECD

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 17, CMC – The Barbados government Wednesday said it has never had a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as Bridgetown responded to a statement issued by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) linking several Caribbean countries to the initiative.

International Business and Industry Minister, Ronald Toppin said the Mia Mottley administration was aware of the statement issued on Tuesday relative to the abuse in some instances of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) where individuals can exploit citizenship by investment programmes.

“At the outset, it must be emphasized that Barbados has never had, and does not have, a citizenship by investment programme.

“However, among several other countries, Barbados High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Special Entry Permit (SEP) regime was identified as one which poses a high-risk to the integrity of the CRS. This is not a “blacklist”, although some media establishments have chosen to headline their articles on the issue as such,” Toppin said.

He said that the government, which came to power in May this year “forcefully rejects any and all such news reports which state that Barbados has been blacklisted by the OECD.

“These reports are false and erroneous, but can, unfortunately, have deleterious effects on our reputation.

The OECD report simply provides practical guidance to financial institutions on how to undertake enhanced due diligence on clients that are citizens or residents of the countries with Citizenship By Investment (CBI) or Residence By Investment (RBI) programmes so as to prevent cases of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) avoidance and tax evasion,” Toppin noted.

He said that a Barbados delegation that is now attending the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP), Wednesday engaged the OECD officials that published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list of jurisdictions as a “blacklist” is completely inaccurate. The Barbados delegation was also informed that a statement of clarification will be forthcoming from the OECD very shortly.

“Barbados is, therefore, under no obligation to take any measures to change its High Net Worth Individual Special Entry Permit regime,” Toppin said, adding that Barbados is a member of the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information and has ratified the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

“Barbados has also implemented the CRS and is compliant with the international standard for the exchange of information established by the Global Forum,” he added.

Several Caribbean countries, notably Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts-Nevis have CIP programmes that allow foreign investors to receive citizenship of the country in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the country.

The OECD said Tuesday that the Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, “can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” it said.

The OECD said therefore and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is publishing the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

It said that potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

“Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu,” the OECD statement noted.

In his statement, Toppin said that the island had received positive reviews at the Forum and that the delegation had reported the positive outcomes under Action 5 of the Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

The OECD has identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner and the Action 5 Report is one of the four BEPS minimum standards.

Toppin said that the director of International Business had updated the Forum on Barbados’ direction with respect to proposed amendments to its legislative regime.

He said the FHTP Secretariat accepted the proposals by the Barbados team and urged Barbados to finalize the amendments. Barbados will report again in January 2019.

“These positive outcomes are in line with Barbados’ expectations and our engagement with the FHTP is testimony to Government’s continuing commitment to the adherence of international standards and tax rules that promote transparency and fairness in global trade and commerce for individuals and businesses alike.”

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Reggae Girlz's historic qualification goes beyond football

Reggae Girlz’s historic qualification goes beyond football

© Getty Images
  • Jamaica qualify for FIFA Women’s World Cup for first time in history
  • Become first Caribbean nation to book ticket to world finals
  • Head coach Hue Menzies reacts, FIFA.com rounds up their statistics

17 October 2018: That will be a date which will have a special place of significance in Jamaican football history forever. The Reggae Girlz became the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a senior Women’s World Cup on that date, defeating Panama 4-2 on penalties after an extra-time 2-2 draw in the match for third place at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the region’s qualifying tournament for France 2019.

Casual observers would have seen the penalty shootout and the resulting celebrations from the women in the yellow jerseys and perhaps thought it was just another team winning a penalty shootout. But it was far more than that.

Let Jamaica head coach Hue Menzies give some context to the moment.

“I’m telling you the amount of sacrifices we’ve made – the staff, the players – for the country, we’re going to change the culture back home,” Menzies said. “How they perceive women, it’s changed.

“It’s a big sacrifice. And you know what? Those 20 girls decided they were going to make the change. It’s amazing right now. Not too many words can be said.

“This is way more than football,” Menzies continued. “Big up to Cedella Marley for putting the neck on the line for us. The thank-yous can’t stop. The sacrifices will still keep plugging, the adversities will always be there, but I’m telling you it’s a lot more than football. This is just a statement. We’re going to go back home and celebrate. There’s not a whole lot of space on that island, but we’re going to find every inch to celebrate on because it’s history.”

Jamaica’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship in stats

  • Scored the third-most amount of total goals (12)
  • Received just two yellow cards all tournament
  • Tallied the third-most amount of total assists (9)
  • Khadija Shaw, Konya Plummer, Deneisha Blackwood and Chinyelu Asher started and played all five games
  • Jody Brown was the team’s top scorer (4) and won the tournament’s young player award
  • Plummer led the tournament in interceptions (13)

Did you know?

The Reggae Girlz will be playing in their first-ever world finals in France next summer, the same country that the Jamaican men’s national team competed in their first-ever World Cup in 1998.

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secretary of state mike pompeo, with his arms folded, addresses the media

ABC: Pompeo Heard Alleged Audio of Khashoggi Murder

secretary of state mike pompeo, with his arms folded, addresses the media
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the media on a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Solange Reyner    |   Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:55 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.

A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.

The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”

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DSC_9803

ECCB donates to the elderly and children for FIM

The East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is celebrating its 35th Anniversary and also observing Financial Information Month (FIM) (during October). As part of its activities in Montserrat, the Bank through its resident agency representative Mrs. Claudette Weekes, at the office in Brades delivered financial support to two organisations.

Before making the delivery, Mrs. Weekes to note the theme for FIM 2018 which is, “Financial Empowerment Through Education with a focus on Conducting and Protecting your Business in a Digital Environment.”

She explained: “It challenges us to use the digital environment to create opportunities; to take advantage of the possibilities that these opportunities present, by optimising them i.e. make the best of them.”

She said, “It also challenges us to research, explore, and find new horizons everywhere. A lot of what we seek to know is buried in the life experiences of our senior citizens and the best person to tap these resources are the children and young people in general.”

It was because of this that the Bank took pleasure through her office to give and to announce that the sum of $1,000.00 had been deposited to the account of The Children’s Society at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC); and equal sum of $1,000.00 deposited into the account of ‘The Senior Citizen’s Association’ at the Bank of Montserrat Ltd. (BOML). The gestures she said, “are a part of the Community Outreach effort for Financial Month 2018.

Mrs. Weekes noted further that the ECCB in collaboration with RBC, BOML, Montserrat Building Society (MBS), St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union (SPCCU), Social Security Fund, Financial Services Commission and the (Govt.) Ministry of Finance, “is of the view that on Montserrat there are at least two associations with responsibility for protecting and caring for the vulnerable in our society.”

Mrs Claudette Weekes

She said the Bank had therefore identified the groups and selected them, “to be our FIM recipients this year.”

Following the brief remarks, she called on the presidents of the associations, Mrs. Helena Dorsett and Miss Bernadine Collins, to whom she said thanks, “for allowing us to contribute to your efforts.”

In handing over the symbolic pictures of the deposited checks, Mrs. Weekes told the two recipients, “we pray that you will experience successful outcomes as you continue to serve in this noble manner.”

Both Mrs. Dorsette and Miss Collins responded with thanks and appreciation on behalf of the associations.

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NCC chairman denies public education one-sided in favour of CCJ

NCC chairman denies public education one-sided in favour of CCJ

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 3, CMC – The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) spearheading the public education and sensitization programme on the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Dr. Clarence Henry, Wednesday dismissed suggestions that the campaign leading up to next month’s referendum is “one–sided” and appealed to nationals to get as much information on the issue ahead of the vote.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote on November 6 on whether or not to replace the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ as the island’s highest and final court.

Dr. Clarence Henry

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce and the NCC, Henry urged nationals to ensure they are well informed on the issue before casting their ballots next month.

“Let your voices be heard. Please be an arm chair pundit utilizing the safety of your chair or bedroom to speak to the issues,” he said, noting “every time we approach persons who support the Privy Council to engage as a panelist, only a few answer the call.
“Yet I hear the untrue accusation of one-sided campaign. That is far from the truth or reality,” he said, insisting that the question in the education drive is whether Antigua and Barbuda should migrate from the Privy Council to the Trinidad-based CCJ.

“The voting public will determine that question in a referendum on November 6…, much like general elections, where you are required to go visit the prescribed voting station, and in the booth answer “yes” or “no”. It is your decision that will determine Antigua and Barbuda’s fate.”

He acknowledged the results of the referendum will have “wide ranging implications for the country’s future,” saying that the mandate of the NCC is to help in that determination by providing the requisite information and facts so that voters could make an informed choice.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, brother and sisters, comrades: please take these matters seriously. Please do not ignore the discussions, but take the time to obtain the unadulterated truth. Do not go down the wrong path believing that the decision on referendum day will not affect you. It will.”

He said he was challenging voters not to be overwhelmed by the avalanche of information, but carefully sift through to determine what fake or genuine.

“Only you, can determine that through research. There are a large volume of primary and secondary materials to assist in your discovery of the facts.

“Moreover, I urge you to critically analyze what the purveyors of gloom and doom, those arm-chair pundits that meddle in every discussion, who pretend to be the bastions of wisdom and the paragons of virtue on every conceivable subject, who never seem to see the greater good in developmental matters, only to espouse negative traits of discouragement ignoring the essence of a pragmatic vision surrounding the development of our countries. “

Henry said the time has come for Antigua and Barbuda to seriously discuss the ramifications of staying with the Privy Council or going with the CCJ  saying pivotal to the discussions is the macro-economic, political and legislative underpinning of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) “ the platform for growth and sustainable development of our countries”.

The CCJ was established in 2001 and while many of the Caribbean countries are signatories to its Original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the court’s Appellate jurisdiction. The CCJ also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

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US to provide funds to the Caribbean under CESI

US to provide funds to the Caribbean under CESI

WASHINGTON, Oct 3, CMC – The United States says it will provide two million US dollars to the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) to identify projects aimed at strengthening and promoting  mutual interests to pursue “a shared vision of a secure, prosperous and democratic Western Hemisphere together”.

A US Department of State statement, said that Washington and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) officials met here last week and have resolved to strengthen their engagement and work together to protect the region.

It said that the meeting took place on the sidelines of the just-concluded 73rd  session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that was attended by several regional leaders and foreign ministers.

The State Department said that Deputy US Secretary of State John J. Sullivan hosted the meeting which was attended by Bahamas Foreign Minister, Darren Henfield, as head of CARICOM’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

It said that in furtherance their objective to strengthen their engagement, Sullivan announced that two million dollars would be allocated to the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative to identify projects, “where US development finance can spur private sector investment throughout the Caribbean energy sector.

“The United States and the CARICOM Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to forging stronger bonds in security, diplomacy, prosperity, energy, education, and health, which comprise the six pillars of Caribbean 2020, the comprehensive roadmap for US-Caribbean engagement,” the statement said.

It said both sides focused on ways to enhance cooperation and increase partnerships.

Topics included expanding economic prosperity and energy security, combatting transnational criminal organizations, improving citizen security, and supporting emergency response and preparedness for natural disasters.

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AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

US, Russian Astronauts Safe After Emergency Landing

It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S. to carry its astronauts to the station.

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

 

It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S. to carry its astronauts to the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin were subjected to heavy gravitational forces as their capsule automatically jettisoned from the Soyuz booster rocket and fell back to Earth at a sharper-than-normal angle and landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

“Thank God the crew is alive,” said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, when it became clear that they had landed safely. He added that the president is receiving regular updates about the situation.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who watched the launch at Baikonur along with his Russian counterpart, tweeted that Hague and Ovchinin are in good condition. He added that a “thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.”

Hague and Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The astronauts were to dock at the International Space Station six hours after the launch.

But the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an unspecified failure of its second stage about two minutes after launching. Search and rescue teams were immediately scrambled to recover the crew and paratroopers were dropped from a plane to reach the site and help the rescue effort.

It was to be the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the orbiting outpost in 2016.

While the Russian space program has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents in recent years, Thursday’s mishap marked the program’s first manned launch failure since September 1983, when a Soyuz exploded on the launch pad.

The astronauts were flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan and will later be taken to Baikonur and on to Star City, Russia’s space training center outside Moscow.

NASA posted pictures of Hague and Ovchinin undergoing a medical check-up at Dzhezkazgan’s airport. One of the pictures showed Hague smiling and another had him sitting next to Russia’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur, and spacecraft returning from the ISS normally land in that region.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said all manned launches will be suspended pending an investigation into the cause of the failure. He added that Russia will fully share all relevant information with the U.S.

Earlier this week, Bridenstine emphasized that collaboration with Russia’s Roscosmos remains important.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but they have maintained cooperation in space research.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet. Russia stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX’s Dragon v2 and Boeing’s Starliner crew capsules.

The last time the Russian space program had a manned launch failure was in 1983. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad after the Soyuz explosion.

Russia has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets for launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station.

While Russian rockets had earned a stellar reputation for their reliability in the past, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into doubt Russia’s ability to maintain the same high standards of manufacturing.

Glitches found in Russia’s Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches and badly dented Russia’s niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches.

In August, the International Space Station crew spotted a hole in a Russian Soyuz capsule docked to the orbiting outpost that caused a brief loss of air pressure before being patched.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has raised wide concern by saying that the leak was a drill hole that was made intentionally during manufacturing or in orbit. He didn’t say if he suspected any of the current crew — an American, a Russian and a German aboard the station. The current crew’s stint in orbit will likely be extended following Thursday’s aborted launch.

Vladimir Isachenkov and Jim Heintz contributed to this report from Moscow.

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Oct 10, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris says joining the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is not a priority for his coalition administration in St Kitts and Nevis.

Harris, speaking on WINN FM radio here said that his government is not treating membership of the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, as a priority at this time.

“In terms of the CCJ the cabinet has not made a determination with respect to that matter, it is a matter we will perhaps consider at a more proficient time. At this moment I think there is a sense that the Privy Council is favoured by the national community,” Harris said.

St. Kitts-Nevis is among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have signed on to the original Jurisdiction of the CCJ. However, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatoresi to the appellate Jurisdiction of the Court that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada are due to hold national referendum on November 6 to determine whether or not to replace the Privy Council.

Harris told radio listeners that the issue of replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ is among the matters “that before we attend to this we will put before the people, have an educational programme with regard to any movement away from the Privy Council and get a good grounding from the people where they want to go because there are very strong views for and against on that one.

“It is a matter someday we will have to confront, we don’t need to confront it today, so it is not a priority consideration at this time for the Team Unity administration,” he added.

Former CCJ president, Sir Dennis Byron, a citizen of the twin island Federation, said recently that the CCJ is not a party issue and that a referendum often requires a two-thirds majority for change.

“What has been happening in our country is because of the cost, and the complexities and the difficulty of going to the Privy Council our people have not been having a final appeal. They just have a case and a court of appeal and most people have to stop there even if they are not satisfied.

“The CCJ has put a stop to that because, in the countries that have adopted our jurisdiction, people are coming to us. It’s easier, it’s cheaper, it’s on the spot and if you look at some of the decisions that we have made it’s impacted on the day to day life of the communities in ways in which the Privy Council never do,’ Sir Dennis had said.

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