BBC – Capital – Why citizenship is now a commodity

Gives a good sense of the target market for citizenship by investment programs and the mentality of the people seeking multiple citizenships:

For as little as $50,000 (in Latvia) or as much as $10 million (in France), foreigners can buy legal status to live, work and bank in a number of countries. Perhaps more importantly, by extension, they buy access to visa-free travel to countries around the world.

And, there’s an informal rating system for the most sought after passports. “Some people in the industry determine [the value] by the number of visa-free countries a person can travel to. So I think at the moment the data out there is that on the German passport you can travel to more countries than with any other citizenship in the world.” Emmett says.

In a globalised world where political isolationism is paradoxically on the rise, this freedom of movement is an attractive element of such schemes.

Andrew Henderson, an American entrepreneur and founder of the Nomad Capitalist, a blog, podcast and consulting company, has four passports and is working on his fifth. Multiple citizenships provide him with a multitude of entrepreneurial options, he says.

(Credit: Andrew Henderson)

Andrew Henderson, an American entrepreneur and founder of the Nomad Capitalist, has four passports and is working on his fifth (Credit: Andrew Henderson)

He says investing in programmes in the African archipelago of Comoros and the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia give him more opportunities and lower taxes.

“For me it’s about how I could have better options, better tax treatment, better treatment as a person and get the same visa free travel.” he says, adding that he expects investment citizenship to rise.

“I think the world is going more nomadic.  People don’t want to be in once place. They want to have one or two or three bases for lifestyle reasons and pay reasonable taxes, and that’s what becoming more accessible.

While not everyone with multiple citizenships will reside in multiple nations, Williams says the industry can be viewed as a barometer of turmoil in the world.  He says many of the investors he works with see these programmes as a safety net.

“Most of our clients do not go and live in the country they invest in,” he says. “They see it as more of an insurance policy. They know that they’ve got that second residency, so if they ever have to jump on a plane they’ve got that option.”

Your country for sale

(Credit: Getty Images)

The controversial EB-5 visa programme in the US allows people to invest in real estate projects in exchange for a fast-tracked green card application (Credit: Getty Images)

Such programmes aren’t without controversy.

Afterall, should citizenship be for sale? Detractors say no.

Earlier this year in the US, two senators, Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley, introduced a bill to get rid of the EB-5 programme, arguing that it is too flawed to continue.

“It is wrong to have a special pathway to citizenship for the wealthy while millions wait in line for visas,” Feinstein said.

Detractors also argue these programmes unfairly favour the rich and are unattainable for everyone else. They also cite concerns about money laundering, criminal activity and backdoor access to countries that circumvent normal immigration systems.

Indeed, the intersection of large sums of money and international real estate deals is ripe for fraud.

Just this month an FBI Investigation uncovered a $50 millionvisa fraud operation involving Chinese investors in the EB-5 programme. And in April, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against a man in Idaho who they say spent Chinese investor’s money on new homes, cars and a zip line for himself rather than the real estate projects it was meant for.

The St. Kitts and Nevis programme ran into trouble with the US Treasury Department when suspected Iranian operatives were caught using their St. Kitts passports to launder money for banks in Tehran in violation of US Sanctions.

Source: BBC – Capital – Why citizenship is now a commodity

A Bargain Price on American Citizenship – Diplomatic Courier

Another good analysis of the US EB-5 immigrant investor program:

Of all the innovations and new products that have breached the competitive global market, U.S. citizenship is now one of them. As part of a sales pitch presented at an investment conference in Beijing, Nicole Kushner Meyer (sister of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser) offered American citizenship in return for a $500,000 investment.

The only scandal about this is that the offer is completely legal. How? Through the EB-5 visa program. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, this 25-year-old EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program grants immigrants a path to a green card if they invest $1 million into a project that creates 10 or more U.S. full-time jobs. However, the minimum investment price drops to $500,000 if the development is “within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States.”

After two years, a foreign investor with an EB-5 visa can prove he or she put $500,000 into a developing or high unemployment area and created ten American jobs. Once that proof is confirmed, the investor is finally issued a Green Card, meaning permanent residency status that transforms into citizenship after five years. Fast and easy, if you have the money.

While Nicole Kushner Meyer’s dropping of her brother’s name and political ties have stirred up an ethical debate, the United States is not the only nation to advertise residency via an EB-5-esque immigration program. So you want to be a citizen of the Netherlands? That’ll $1.4 million, please. What about France? $10 million and a two-month wait. According to a studyby Allison Christians, citizenship by investment around the world range from $5.4 million in Russia to as low as $5,000 in Paraguay. On average, the price of citizenship is approximately $1 million internationally. However, the program has been accused of being susceptible to fraud and abuse with little oversight. Developers, such as the Kushner Company, can get investments offering very low rates of return because the investors are getting something they care about even more: U.S. citizenship.

While the EB-5 offers a simplified and expedited route to citizenship, the unfortunate truth is that for many entering the United States, $1 million is not exactly petty pocket cash that can be thrown into an ambiguous investment. It seems that the path to citizenship is different for those bringing economic capital and jobs into the country. Their stimulation of the domestic economy is so valued that the government rewards their investment in America’s continued growth with U.S. citizenship. A Department of Commerce review of EB-5 shows that in calendar years 2012 and 2013, more than 11,000 immigrant investors provided $5.8 billion in capital, roughly 35% of the total investment ($16.7 billion), for 562 EB-5 related projects, creating an estimate total of 174,039 jobs. In essence, the government is financing private real estate developers.

Although the EB-5 visa program received bipartisan support for its termination at the end of April, President Trump recently signed a bill to extend that program through the end of September. While attracting foreign investment and generating jobs in the U.S. is undoubtedly supported, advocates for the end of EB-5’s exploitation propose better options, like thoughtful tax and regulatory policies that open the U.S. for more pro-business opportunities rather than through the sale of something quite invaluable: the right—and privilege—to be an American citizen.

Source: A Bargain Price on American Citizenship – Diplomatic Courier

The Benefits of Citizenship in Nicaragua for High-Net-Worth Individuals

Nicaragua must have one of the cheapest programs – USD 100,000:

Are you a high-net-worth individual that travels internationally? Are you frustrated by lack of access to countries on your current passport? Open up your destination options with the power of citizenship by investment.

Citizenship by investment allows wealthy individuals the opportunity to gain a second passport that enables them a high level of access to many first-world nations. Your second passport will give you the freedom to effortlessly travel the world.

Save time and eliminate the hassle of travel with a second passport. By directly investing in the Nicaraguan economy, you qualify for nationality and the benefits that come from being a Nicaraguan passport holder.

The Benefits of Nicaraguan Citizenship for Investors

Freedom of travel is vital for any investor. Time spent in transit, or applying for visas in person can feel frustrating, especially when you have more pressing business issues to attend to.

There are many different citizenship by investment programs available from a variety of countries. However, Nicaragua offers very good value for money when you consider the advantages.

  • Affordable cost of living and fantastic real estate prices.
  • Stable government and economic conditions.
  • Good schooling and favorable tax laws.
  • Friendly locals and good public services.

Nicaragua does not require you to reside in the country for any specific period of time to keep your citizenship. You have complete freedom of movement to live anywhere in the world that you desire and still reap the advantages of a Nicaraguan passport holder. Here’s what you can expect from your second passport;

  • No restrictions on travel to 112 countries, no visa required.
  • Live & work in any of the 26 countries in the Schengen zone.
  • Pension & medical programs.
  • 5-year, renewable passport with drivers license and national ID card.
  • 60 day processing period.

With all of the advantages available to you, it’s easy to understand why Nicaraguan passport is ranked among the top 50 in the world to hold.
The Process – How CBI Programs Work

By directly investing in the Nicaraguan economy, you are entitled to nationality and a second passport. This direct investment is offered in two different formats for the investor to choose from.

  • Purchasing real estate in Nicaragua, to the value of US$100,000 or more.
  • Making an investment of US$100,000 into the Nicaraguan “Sociedad Anónima” corporation, refundable after the investment term has expired.

Receive Your Second Passport by working with CBI Professionals

Source: The Benefits of Citizenship in Nicaragua for High-Net-Worth Individuals

These are the countries you can ‘buy’ citizenship to – Business Insider

Another good overview of the various schemes, and the relative advantages for those shopping for citizenship:

Most countries offer citizenship (passports) the hard way. But 7 sell them outright, and 3 have “powerful” passports. “Citizenship Planning” is a thing.

For people who need a second citizenship and passport to dodge the long arm of their government, there is something called “citizenship planning,” similar to “financial planning.” But when it comes to just outright buying a citizenship and passport without having to languish for years as mere non-citizen resident, the Huddled Masses need not apply. And not any passport will do. In fact, there are only three for sale that are really good.

Which are the best passports to get?

There are quality standards for everything, especially if it’s costly. The most powerful passports are those that allow visa-free travel to the most countries.

There are other considerations, for example those that drive US citizens nuts when they live overseas, due to the US government’s onerous reporting requirements on them and on banks that do business with them, and due to US taxation of their worldwide income no matter where they live. Few other governments treat their citizens that way.

In terms of visa-free travel, here are the 25 countries with the most powerful passports, according to a new ranking by Henley & Partners, which is into “citizenship planning.” But among them is only – Austria – one whose citizenship can be bought (more on that in a moment):

  1. Germany: visa-free travel to 176 countries.
  2. Sweden: 175 countries
  3. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain, and the US: 174 countries.
  4. Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, UK: 173 countries
  5. Republic of Ireland, Japan, New Zealand: 172 countries
  6. Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland: 171 countries
  7. Australia, South Korea: 170 countries
  8. Iceland: 169 countries.

And how do you get one of those passports?

In most countries, the hard way: Legally immigrate and obtain residency, and then fulfill the residency requirements to get citizenship and that second passport, which takes years. Most countries, including the US, have special programs for “investors” to obtain residency, such as a green card, essentially on the spot, but even then it takes years to obtain citizenship and a passport. If it’s possible at all, such as in Germany.

Then there’s the direct way: Buy a citizenship and the passport that comes along with it. These citizenship-by-investment programs are not for folks on a tight budget. According to Henley & Partners, only seven countries offer this convenient route, only three have powerful passports, and only one is in the top of the heap above.

Passports from EU countries are the best. If you’re from Russia or China or Iraq and become a citizen of one of the 28 EU countries, you’ll get a country-specific EU passport that allows you to live and do business anywhere in the EU. There are all sorts of offshore benefits. And travel around the world is a breeze.

But citizenship in most EU countries is not for sale. You can buy only residency, similar to programs in the US. But there are three exceptions:

Austria

Citizenship is almost impossible to get for normal foreigners already legally in Austria. But the super-rich and famous have a way. The government, through paragraph 10, section 6 of the Citizenship Act, can confer citizenship “because of the services already provided by the foreigner and the extraordinary achievements still to be expected of him in the special interest of the Republic.” This usually involves a big direct investments of unspecified magnitude plus some other “extraordinary” contribution, such as being famous or creating jobs. Few succeed. In some years, none succeed.

They’re playing hard to get. But the rewards are huge for the few that succeed, including an impeccable EU passport with visa-free travel to 173 countries.

Cyprus

In 2012, as the EU-part of the divided island was veering toward bankruptcy, it offered citizenship through a “fast-track” scheme to dodge the normal residency requirements. But the price tag was €10 million in direct investment. Too expensive for the average oligarch.

In 2013, Cyprus became desperate. Its offshore financial industry, the main breadwinner of the economy, had collapsed in a cesspool of corruption. The banks had taken much of the foreign money – particularly Russian money – down with them. Cyprus needed some moolah. It slashed the price of citizenship to €3 million of direct investment. Russians who’d lost at least €3 million in the collapse would also be eligible for citizenship.

Since then, the price was further slashed, to as low as €2 million. And it’s fast: about three months for citizenship and an EU passport, with visa-free travel to 159 countries. And that €3-million investment can be sold after three years. An adequate house would likely do.

Malta

The tiny EU member state with 417,000 residents spread over three islands is convenient for foreigners, with English being one of the two official languages. In 2013, during the still rough waters of the euro debt crisis, Parliament passed legislation that put Maltese citizenship up for sale at €650,000. A spouse costs another €25,000; unmarried children between 18 and 25 and dependent parents cost €50,000 each. There are no residency or investment requirements. The money goes into government funds.

This citizenship is a product to be marketed. If it sells 100 per year at €650,000 a pop, it would generate annual revenues of €65 million – or 1.75% of total 2016 revenues (€3.7 billion). Given the limits on budget deficits under EU Treaties, everything counts.

This Maltese product includes an EU passport with visa-free travel to 166 countries. Folks can stop by, jump through some bureaucratic hoops, pay, get their citizenship and passport, and settle in Germany or wherever. At the time, Simon Busuttil, leader of the opposition Nationalist Party, warned that Malta could end up being compared to shady tax havens in the Caribbean. And that’s our last stop.

Source: These are the countries you can ‘buy’ citizenship to – Business Insider

Peter Thiel’s New Zealand citizenship: Billionaires get citizenship abroad so they can run from the problems they create — Quartz

Thiel’s safety hatch citizenship, assessed by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, the author of The Cosmopolites (another take on the themes of Chrystia Freeland’s book, Plutocrats):

We don’t know the exact details of Thiel’s naturalization yet, but it’s hard to imagine that his exorbitant wealth didn’t help. New Zealand offers residence permits to rich investors—the hacker Kim Dotcom, who’s facing extradition to the United States, bought his way there by investing millions of dollars—and grants citizenship in special circumstances to people who don’t meet the five-year residence requirements.

In these discretionary cases, New Zealand’s immigration minister has to personally approve the petition and deem it “in the public interest because of exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature.” (Thiel does not appear to have won any prizes for his humanitarian efforts.)

Thiel’s opinions will affect some 300 million Americans, most of whom who do not have a backup passport—or indeed, even the funds for a plane ticket abroad.  More and more countries are adopting special citizenship laws to let in extraordinarily rich or talented people, whether it’s athletes, experts, or entrepreneurs. As I note in my book, The Cosmopolites, for your average billionaire, having a Plan B country has become practically de rigueur. Citizenship-by-investment is estimated to be a $2 billion a year business. A half-dozen countries, from tiny specks in the Caribbean like Antigua to EU member states like Malta, openly sell their passport to wealthy individuals so long as they are not known criminals. Even the US effectively sells green cards through its EB-5 investor program.

It’s one thing for a wealthy private citizen to buy herself options to make traveling, living, and working abroad easier. Hypocrisy among Trump’s inner circle—and indeed, in all contemporary American politics—is hardly breaking news. And the irony of a Trump confidante revealing himself to be a rootless globalist is admittedly delectable. It’s also not all that surprising: Trump’s pick for trade secretary, Robert Lighthizer, has attended the Davos World Economic Forum 15 times.

The fact that Thiel can easily run away from the very rules and regulations he’ll be helping Trump shape, however, is not funny in the least. Thiel is in a position of immense power as Trump’s advisor. His opinions will affect some 300 million Americans, most of whom who do not have a backup passport—or indeed, even the funds for a plane ticket abroad. The ease with which Thiel can opt out of American society speaks to the very concerns that conservatives themselves have voiced about the denationalized “Davos man” for decades. When Samuel Huntington worried in 2004 that America’s elites were “seceding,” he could have easily been talking about Thiel—or any number of Trump’s cabinet appointees, for that matter.

 It is the current system of passports and nations and states, along with moralistic attitudes about patriotism, that enables the rich to opt out. On the surface, there seem to be immense contradictions between the nationalist, populist, protectionist rhetoric that Trump spouts and the acquisitive globalism of a Peter Thiel type. But these twin ideologies coalesce in a mutually supportive way. Trump said in a December speech that there is no world currency, no world flag, and no world passport. That’s true. But the continued primacy of the nation-state is precisely why the practice of “sovereignty hacking” or “jurisdiction shopping,” as exemplified by citizenship-by-investment programs and offshore tax registries, has become so prevalent among those who can afford it. Picking and choosing residencies, citizenships, and tax regimes helps the wealthy exist as though the world had no borders at all, which means they can throw their support behind nationalist policies that will close off options to everyone else. It is the current system of passports and nations and states, along with moralistic attitudes about patriotism, that enables the rich to opt out.

Thiel knows this world very, very well. In fact, Thiel apparently found the concept of hacking sovereignty so compelling that in 2008, he gave his personal and financial support to the Seasteading Institute, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that promotes the creation of artificial floating nations in international waters. The political philosophy behind seasteading can be summed up as follows:

  1. Governments are bad

  2. Governments have a monopoly on sovereignty

  3. Governments would be less bad if they had to compete on the open market with each other for capital, companies, citizens, and ideas

  4. No one can compete with governments because governments control the world’s land

  5. The only spaces that aren’t controlled by existing governments are in international waters

  6. Creating lots of new countries in international waters will increase competition and make all governments better

Source: Peter Thiel’s New Zealand citizenship: Billionaires get citizenship abroad so they can run from the problems they create — Quartz

As Popularity Of Citizenship-By-Investment Grows, Tighter Vetting By Some Countries Should Be Recognized | The Daily Caller

More on citizenship-by-investment programs, by Lanny Davis, who consults with countries to ensure appropriate due diligence in reviewing applications. Ironic that he also cites Dominica as a good example the same day that this other story came out where the process failed (Dominica says ‘due diligence followed’ before granting citizenship to arrested Iranian national):

Recent U.S. media reports, however, have focused on these “bad apples” or atypical anecdotal stories of abuses.  These reports fail to report the examples of nations who have raised, not lowered, their standards of vetting and oversight, so that Americans can gain the advantage of a passport that doesn’t put a potential “death” target on their backs when they seek to travel on business or for family vacation reasons.

For example, take the government of St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN), twin islands in the Caribbean 1,200 miles southeast of Miami. In the SKN citizenship-by-investment program’s infancy, a handful of wrongdoers obtained St. Kitts and Nevis passports. Rather than ignore their shortcomings to remain competitive in the contest of attracting potential investors, government leaders acknowledged the deficiencies and overhauled their program. I should know—I was hired to conduct an independent review of the country’s revamped program.

On December 4, 2015, I was retained by Prime Minister, the Honorable Timothy Harris, Head of the Government of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. We were asked to conduct an independent review of the increased efforts of the St. Kits and Nevis Government to enhance and strengthen its vetting and background checking procedures under its CBI.

With a staff that has nearly doubled in size, led by Mr. Les Kahn, an internationally respected former consultant to IPSA International, the unit has added many additional layers of vetting. Each layer requires a written report to explain why a specific recommendation was made, and that report stays in the file as it moves upstream. In addition to conducting internal investigations, unit officials collaborate at length with international partners (including the U.S. government) through established law enforcement channels. Under Mr. Khan’s leadership, the Unit has willingly revoked previously issued problematic passports. St. Kitts and Nevis now operates one of the most stringent CBIs in the world. In addition to conducting internal investigations, Unit officials collaborate at length with international partners (including the U.S. government) before deciding to issue the passport.

Another example is the nation of Dominica, another beautiful island nation in the Caribbean, Prime Minister, Dr. the Honorable Roosevelt Skerrit, with whom I have met twice and who is a most impressive leader of his small island, has been steadfast in his commitment to a rigorous vetting process that involves criminal, character and ethics checks by international law enforcement agencies for all citizenship applicants. For PM Skerrit, having a legitimate and transparent CBI is about more than reputation—it has massive implications for his small nation’s economy. In 2016, the CBI accounted for 39.2% of the country’s total revenue. These resources are critical to rebuild the country and its economy in the wake of tropical storm Erika.

No matter a country’s size and stature, in an age of terrorism and increased need in the global economy for Americans to travel without fear, the citizenship-by-investment programs of small democracies that need such investments ought to be available with appropriate high-level vetting standards.   International media should take the time to investigate and differentiate between those nations who are” selling” passports without regard to the “bad actors” buying them vs. those governments who have put a high level of regulation and oversight into place and continue to raise their standards before issuing passports, knowing they will depress revenues from such bad actors.

Source: As Popularity Of Citizenship-By-Investment Grows, Tighter Vetting By Some Countries Should Be Recognized | The Daily Caller

Turkey a late entry in lucrative economic citizenship bandwagon – Daily Sabah

citizenship-investmentOne of the latest countries to embrace the trend, without the pretence that this will help the economy beyond real estate:

The increasing phenomenon of citizenship-by-investment – economic citizenship – has come to occupy the Turkish agenda with Thursday’s amendment of a citizenship law that offers citizenship to foreigners via four types of investment choices, including a real-estate investment of $1 million. In particular, the real-estate option is expected to boost Turkey’s real estate market and increase the ratio of real estate purchased by foreign investors.

Granting citizenship to foreigners in return for a determined amount of investment is a global phenomenon applied in many developed and developing countries, such as the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Australia, Dominica and Bulgaria. The growing phenomenon of “buying citizenship” is defined as “economic citizenship” by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Economic citizenship is offered by a number of small states and advanced economies, some of which, such as Canada, the U.K. and U.S., have had immigrant investor programs since the late 1980s or early 1990s, offering a route to citizenship in exchange for specific investment conditions with significant residency requirements. The rapid growth of private wealth, especially in emerging market economies, has increased the interest of wealthy people in greater global mobility and fewer travel obstacles posed by visa restrictions.

Source: Turkey a late entry in lucrative economic citizenship bandwagon – Daily Sabah

St Lucia opposition describes new citizenship rules as ‘desecration’ | Caribbean News Now

Inevitable, that a program designed to encourage investment through citizenship, should lead to minimal conditions or requirements?

The Saint Lucia parliament later approved the legislation establishing the CIP with every member expressing support for the programme, including all opposition members.

In establishing the CIP, the SLP was very clear on its objectives, Pierre said:

1. It was a tool aimed primarily at attracting foreign direct investment in high end hotel and real estate products and employment generating business enterprises

2. Accountability and transparency was not an option. An annual report would have to be submitted to Parliament indicating the individuals who were granted Saint Lucian citizenship, how much income was collected and how was that revenue utilised

3. That Saint Lucia’s programme would not be positioned just as selling passports. “We were introducing global citizenship as a lifestyle and creating incentives to make the island a choice destination for investment. In this regard, we placed Saint Lucia on the higher end of the scale of options. We did not see Saint Lucia as being offered as the cheapest option,” Pierre noted.

4. That the due diligence process would be very robust and was expanded the due diligence process to include legally enforceable assessments.

5. That Saint Lucia would be offered as an option for selected high worth individuals with a propensity to invest, therefore the number of applications was limited to 500 annually, and required a minimum net worth of US$3 million.

However, apparently abandoning its initial up-market approach to its citizenship programme, namely, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, last month issued an amendment to the citizenship by investment regulations, removing the cap on annual applications, reducing the amount of qualifying contributions and dispensing with the requirement of financial resources of a minimum of US$3 million.

“The announcement that the UWP administration has changed the regulations effective January 1, 2017, has effectively damaged the reputation and image of the CIP. The intention of the UWP government is to turn the CIP into a cash cow with little regard for the consequences to Saint Lucia or the programme. The unrealistic election promises must now be funded by whatever means necessary,” Pierre said.

The SLP said it is opposed to the changes being made and will seek a debate in the Parliament to ensure that the changes and their possible consequences are fully explained to the people of Saint Lucia.

Source: St Lucia opposition describes new citizenship rules as ‘desecration’ | Caribbean News Now

Apex Capital Partners Corp. Staunchly Supports Citizenship by Investment Programs in the Caribbean

I always find the spin in these puff pieces amusing, defending consulting industry practices:

On January 1, CBS aired an episode of 60 Minutes entitled “Passports for Sale” that highlighted the growing Citizenship by Investment industry, fueling globalization and facilitating the movement of capital and individuals around the world. During the segment, multiple on-camera interviewees brought forward concerns surrounding the due diligence performed by countries providing citizenship in exchange for a one-time fee or investment within said country.

Apex Capital Partners Corp. is an internationally recognized financial services firm that provides end-to-end execution in areas such as second citizenship; business immigration; wealth management; and real estate investment opportunities. The firm interacts directly with many governments mentioned in the segment including Antigua and Barbuda, Cyprus, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Saint Kitts & Nevis on behalf of its clients. Many of the countries APEX works with provide citizenship that facilitates ease of travel, simplifies financial management, and offers a high quality of life.

“While 60 Minutes certainly featured concerns expressed over the years, most of the countries and services providers participating in these Citizenship by Investment Programs are doing so via a successful process that supports domestic growth as well as the individual citizen,” said Nuri Katz, Founder and President of Apex Capital Partners Corp. “Our team witnesses it firsthand the extensive due diligence process which involves background checks and interviews, while also conducting information exchanges within the international community, including numerous foreign governments. The programs we recommend are credible, best of breed programs which rely upon maximum possible oversight.”

“The country of Dominica realizes not only the importance of providing a transparent Citizenship by Investment Program, but also the key role the industry plays in fueling economic growth,” said Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. “We have carefully developed this program, conducting extensive background checks and reviews for global citizens who wish to contribute to our country.”

“Saint Kitts and Nevis has taken great strides to present what we consider to be one of the most attractive and well-guarded Citizenship by Investment Programs in the world,” said Saint Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris. “First and foremost, our efficient process is designed to benefit our citizens and the local economy, attracting only top-tier international citizens, while remaining supremely conscious of our responsibility and commitments to the international community of nations. Saint Kitts and Nevis is highly regarded as a responsible member of the international community, and is compliant with its international obligations.”

The segment, while likely inadvertent, incorrectly claims that the industry was created by a service provider in the last decade. In fact, the industry was created in 1984 by Saint Kitts and Nevis when they launched the first Citizenship by Investment Program, which was then followed by Dominica with the launch of a similar program in 1994. Similarly, in a clear conflict of interest, an individual named Peter Vincent raises significant questions surrounding due diligence for countries mentioned in the segment, while curiously omitting that his present employer, Thomson Reuters, is actually a due diligence services provider, commercially competing to be hired by those countries that have Citizenship by Investment programs. Unfortunately, his role and clear conflict of interest in participating in the segment is not mentioned by the journalists or its producers.

APEX applauds 60 Minutes for the focus it has placed on the Citizenship by Investment industry and believes due diligence is of the utmost importance to these programs. In fact, many of the due diligence providers relied upon by these countries are first world and internationally acclaimed. As one of the leading international boutique investment firms to operate in this sector, APEX is proud to identify much-needed alternative sources of financing, for domestic infrastructure and other budgetary needs. APEX looks forward to the positive economic support these programs have for countries around the world, their respective citizens, and the future growth of the industry.

Source: Apex Capital Partners Corp. Staunchly Supports Citizenship by Investment Programs in the Caribbean

For the Wealthy, Citizenship at a Premium | Boston Review

Good in-depth article on investment citizenship:

In Southern Europe, citizenship-by-investment programs are intrinsically tied to property markets that were badly hurt by the 2008 crisis. The bursting of Spain’s real estate bubble left millions of empty homes, plummeting values, and entire ghost cities of half-finished villas. After such bad press, Mediterranean countries have struggled to lure back second homeowners who were essential to the economy (almost 20 percent of the housing stock in Mediterranean Europe is second homes, compared to just 3 percent in Northern Europe). In all of these markets, property developers have been frightened by the growing polarization between Northern and Southern Europe and have urged national governments to respond by courting global elites in place of traditional buyers from Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. The Brexit vote has only exacerbated this trend by taking UK buyers off the market and complicating the residency status of current British homeowners. Despite the challenges, some in the real estate industry are excited by citizenship-by-investment. Before 2008, they felt that EU-based property markets limited their business to merely well-off European clients; the innovation of citizenship-by-investment allows them to go after the truly global elites.

Those with a crisp new Maltese passport will probably not be getting to know the island very well. Initial residency is easy to fudge. After the wait period is over, newly Maltese citizens can work in Stockholm, enroll their children in heavily subsidized Dutch universities, or use Germany’s universal healthcare system. The selling of citizenship appears to many as a Southern European scheme to profit from the employment opportunities and stability of their Northern neighbors by selling access to stronger job markets and welfare states through their own immigration ministries. Michael Briguglio, a professor at the University of Malta and a former Green Party local councilor, called the country a “hub,” adding that the IIP is meant to attract “certain business people from China, Russia, and certain Arab countries to give them an open door to Europe. It’s a global form of patronage.” This issue is particularly sensitive in Malta, which is intensely Catholic; divorce was legalized only in 2011, and natives have a long history of viewing their island as a Christian entrepôt amidst Muslim trade routes. While the IIP vets criminal records and financial holdings, there seems to be little fear that citizenship-buyers will pose a safety threat. The pressing European worry of radicalization thus seems to apply only to poor migrants, ignoring a long history of economically comfortable and cosmopolitan participants in terrorist organizations.

For small countries, using passports as an asset to be exchanged for cash seems reasonable given a dearth of economic options.

As Southern Europe continues to have tense relations with wealthier EU nations over austerity, many politicians have been forced to cast a wider net to find allies and investors. Cyprus has drawn a large Russian population. China has invested in infrastructure and real estate in Greece and Spain. Portugal even saw the acquisition of a large national bank by its former colony, Angola. Compared to privatizing national industries or providing staging grounds for non-EU companies, selling passports is easy because it is geared toward mobility. It also reinforces the logic that small countries must constantly innovate in order to stay relevant to business opportunities and protect themselves from economic hardship. As Lino Bianco, a Maltese professor and the ambassador to Bulgaria, put it: “Maltese are survivors by circumstances. They turn failures into successes.” Using passports as an asset to be exchanged for cash seems reasonable given a dearth of economic options and a long history of trading, migration, and outside rule by regional powers. Unlike in larger countries, Maltese citizenship has always been negotiable and responsive to wider power struggles on the European continent. The most important thing for the Maltese was to get the best deal possible.

What differentiates citizenship-investors from those who go through a naturalization process is sweat equity. Citizenship-for-sale programs cynically reject the notion of national community, even at a time of rising xenophobia in Europe. Investors can experience citizenship—and all its attendant bonds, prejudices, and heart-stirring emotions—through a bank transfer and a paper booklet while the vast majority of those struggling to migrate must cross deserts, pack into dinghies, live in the shadows, struggle to maintain hope in detention centers, face deportation, study languages and history, and maybe, just maybe—only after many years—stand proudly among their friends and families with their hand on their heart.

Source: For the Wealthy, Citizenship at a Premium | Boston Review