A Russian businessperson was thrown out of his company. He vowed to leave Russia and never return. He bought citizenship in the small Caribbean country of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Citizenship there is available with a donation of $250,000, made out to its Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation. Purchasing approved real estate worth at least $400,000 can also get citizenship.
Selling passports is good business. It brings revenue to economies that now depend on sales from sugar cane products.
Abuse of the program is rising. The U.S. government says St. Kitts gave passports to Iranian men who were using their citizenship documents to help Iranian banks launder millions of dollars.
Other countries are coming into the picture. Malta, Bulgaria, and other Caribbean countries such as Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica and Granada are starting or thinking about starting such programs.
The St. Lucia Prime Minister said, “I think we cannot close our eyes [to selling citizenship] because it is an option we have to consider.”
Applicants come mostly from Russia, the Middle East and Asia. A passport from St. Kitts offers visa-free travel to more than 120 countries. Most people do not want to live in their new countries. They value the passport.
Nobody knows how much revenue the sale of citizenships is generating. But it undoubtedly is in the tens of millions of dollars.
Like all good things, abuse will have an impact. Already the U.S. is telling financial companies that have clients with St. Kitts passports to look carefully at them.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor May 22, 2014