Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
Agents Caribbean island country CBI programs are luring the prospective buyer solely on a number of countries with visa-free travel. This is a big selling point for most of the agents. While visa waivers are considered as a key factor by the prospective buyers, there is so many factors involved before deciding on spending money on such wild ventures, which according to many is almost similar to fraudulent Ponzi schemes.
It is important to note – visa waivers quickly change from time-to-time devaluing passport power. For example, Canada has revoked the visa waiver for all the CBI passports in the Caribbean. Moreover, each of the Caribbean countries are issuing citizenship under their CBI program keeping a provision of revoking the citizenship and passport of the buyer at any time, meaning, the passport people are buying at the cost of US$1~500 thousand – can get revoked anytime and the amount spent for buying it is totally non-refundable!
How Indian nationals are buying Caribbean citizenship?
An agent of Dominica in Britain, CS Global Partners is selling thousands of citizenships to Indian, Chinese, and other nationals. But, according to information, India, China, Singapore, and a few other countries restrict dual citizenship. In this case, those who apply for CBI schemes need to renounce their original citizenship to acquire a foreign citizenship. On the other hand, some countries like Russia, South Africa etc., require prior consent from their government before taking up foreign passports.
A credible source told me that, Indian authorities are yet in dark about thousands of their citizen buying foreign nationality by spending huge amounts of cash. On the other hand, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other agencies in India are surprised knowing hundreds of millions of dollars are being smuggled-out from India by several corrupt individuals and criminals with the direct collaboration of CS Global Partners. But now, following the publication of series of reports in BLiTZ about smuggling-out of millions of dollars from the country by some individuals for buying foreign citizenship, the authorities concerned in India is going to start an investigation soon. It is hinted that the members of CS Global Partners would be interrogated soon.
The hidden expenditure in the CBI program
Prices vary significantly between different CBI schemes. Some schemes require donations to state or only real estate investment (eg. Turkey, Cyprus). Price is also the biggest deciding factor for many investors.
EU countries are the most expensive ones, while the Caribbean countries entice passport seekers with prices starting from US$100K.
But this is not the only amount a buyer of citizenship needs to pay. There are other charges, which is almost 50 percent of the catalog amount. Meaning, a US$100k passport will actually cost at least US$140k, including so-called due diligence fee, agent fee, and application fees.
One of the most important factors is, CBI schemes have been criticized for lack of transparency and accountability. There are always some loopholes and trickery created by the countries or their agents clearly with the ulterior motive of cheating the prospective buyers of citizenship.
Another factor is – CBI schemes are criticized widely for corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion and also allowing criminals, fugitives, or even members of radical Islamic terrorist outfits to hold passports by international media. Although agents and the countries concern always claim of applying “best due diligence” standards, in reality, it is just bluff.
CBI schemes are also criticized for not treating equally have’s and have nots. Governments offer red carpet welcome to those who are wealthy investing for passports, while the poor have to wait in line for a number of years to become a citizen.
There have been arguments recently that CBI schemes do not satisfy genuine link criteria, as economic citizens do not visit, live or participate in the development of the country. Some even don’t know where the country exists on the world map no knowledge whatsoever on economy, culture, and history.
Law experts argue any citizenship that does not satisfy a genuine link to the country is often regarded as the weakest citizenship.
Citizenship acquired through investment schemes can be revoked anytime for fraud, concealment, or if jailed in another country for more than 12 months. This means unless you are a dual citizen, could leave you stateless.
Residence requirements are another major problem. Malta, Cyprus, Turkey imposes residence requirements. This means you have to make a personal visit to the country and apply for residence permit status before becoming a citizen by investment.
Caribbean countries, except Antigua, have zero residence requirements. Meaning, sitting in any country, someone can grab the citizenship of any of the Caribbean nations, while the country issuing the citizenship even will never know the real person at all.
The most important factor here is, once someone even pays all the required fees, his/her citizenship application can be rejected without showing any reason. In case of rejection, the applicant will never get the money s/he has paid refunded.
There is fierce competition in the CBI industry for clients. Thousands of agents compete for clients with citizenship offers, while Governments engage in a price war, with the race to the bottom.
In 2017 hurricane hit countries like Dominica, for example, cut prices by 50 percent to attract passport investors. Although, Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit has been repeatedly saying, his country is vulnerable to hurricanes and sea storms and it is impossible for anyone to make any large investment in that country and finally expect a return with profit.
Investment in real estate under CBI program
Real estate is often a profitable investment but it involves a huge sum of money. If you probably invest in a five-star hotel or luxury property it is probably worth something in the future. The real estate industry also has risks. It could be possible you struggle to sell off your equity share or property after some years.
It is also possible you lose your investment for a possible scam by property developers who don’t return your money.
Many investors think twice about buying a property far away from a country, they don’t know and they don’t visit.