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Thousands of South Asians secretly hold second citizenship

International Residency and Citizenship Expo, UAE, Dubai, Caribbean countries, Dominica, Saint Kitts


Thousands of South Asians secretly hold second citizenship

In the UAE during the International Residency and Citizenship Expo 2021, which was held at Conrad Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi on September 30 and October 1 this year, 25 exhibitors from around the world participated, showcasing the “benefits of having international citizenships” where a “powerful passport, visa-free travel, and tax and wealth management benefits are vital as a safety net for individuals, businesses, and families”.

According to Arun Bose, an Indian national and Exhibitions Director, “The concept of internationalization leads to diversification in business or employment of an individual. It leads a professional or an entrepreneur to have a bigger picture helping to open up an international business, new bank accounts, or travel globally to politically stable countries and establish a secured life with a great retirement plan”.

While the participants of this event succeeded in getting coverage in a number of Middle Eastern newspapers, none of the news media had even written a word about some of the extremely dubious participants of this event. For example, there was a company named CS Global Partners, represented by an individual named Paul Singh, who is one of the owners of this firm having its office in the United Kingdom (10 Dover Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4LQ). For many years, CS Global Partners has been luring thousands of South Asian nationals in secretly buying “second citizenship” in a number of Caribbean countries, including Dominica and launder hundreds of millions of dollars.

In India, CS Global Partners has its office at 29, Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003, India. Through this office, CS Global Partners has already lured thousands of Indian nationals as well as Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepalese, Maldivian and Bhutanese nationals in citizenship of Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and few more countries and helped them in smuggling out hundreds of millions of dollars and secretly deposit in various off-shore bank accounts as well as invest in Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis etcetera. CS Global Partners is also accused of selling citizenship to Pakistani nationals through its UAE office, which is located at Suite 1702, Level 17, Boulevard Plaza Tower 1,
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. Notorious terror don Dawood Ibrahim and a number of his racket also has succeeded in buying citizenship of Dominica and other Caribbean countries, with active cooperation of CS Global Partners. This company also has championed in selling citizenship and even diplomatic positions to various criminals and members of jihadist outfits.

Saint Kitts and Dominica offer two of the world’s cheapest, largest, and oldest CBI programs. And, unlike some rich countries that require aspiring citizens to actually reside there, Dominica, which is just 290 square miles, and Saint Kitts, which is only 105 square miles, do not.

Many of the passport holders are from countries with unpopular passports who may otherwise have trouble obtaining travel visas—think Iran, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan. The firms say their well-heeled clients are seeking protection against unpredictable situations at home amid an era of terrorism fears and economic instability.

But the investment programs have also proved popular with a Who’s Who of fugitives and fraudsters. Convicted felons Paul Bilzerian and Roger Ver gave up their US citizenship and now use Saint Kitts passports. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the illicit marketplace Silk Road, now appealing a life sentence handed down by a US court, was attempting to obtain Dominica citizenship when he was arrested.

Overseas tax evasion is estimated to cost the US as much as US$100 billion annually, but Washington’s concerns are larger than taxes. It was a series of “Iranian nationals” seeking to evade global sanctions whom the US Treasury cited in 2014 when it added Saint Kitts’s passports to a watch list, warning financial institutions of their role in “illicit financial activity”.

The following year, in testimony to the U.S Senate armed services committee, John Kelly, then Marine Corps general said the passport programs “could be exploited by criminals, terrorists, or other nefarious actors.” Kalin, a wiry Swiss economic citizenship impresario known as “the passport king”, admitted in an interview with 60 Minutes  that the Saint Kitts program, which his firm helped design and relaunch in 2006, “tended for some time to attract quite a few people that I would never let into the country”.

Like data about the passports—it’s not publicly known how many are out there and who holds them—the precise role of firms like Henley and SCL has also remained mostly in the shadows, the subject of allegations of dirty tricks, kickbacks, and hidden commissions that have circulated across the Caribbean for years. Then in March, as allegations by former SCL employee Christopher Wylie and Channel 4’s reporting documented a litany of misdeeds by the company, details of the Kalin-SCL relationship first began to emerge in a report in The Spectator.

Concerns about the passport programs aren’t confined to the Caribbean. When reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing in Malta in October, she’d been investigating her country’s own controversial passport sales, and examining links between the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Henley and Partners. (The firm has been Malta’s exclusive passport agent since it helped launch its CBI program in 2013.) “The damage caused to Malta by the sale of citizenship is unquantifiable,” Caruana Galizia wrote on her blog about the country’s so-called golden visas. “Malta is not St. Kitts & Nevis. It is interlocked with the rest of the EU”.

At the time of her murder, which remains under investigation, Caruana Galizia was facing dozens of defamation lawsuits, including from Henley as well as the cofounder of Malta’s Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. The son of one of Iran’s richest men, Hasheminejad has been linked to money laundering and other corrupt activities with officials in the prime minister’s inner circle. He was also one of Henley’s most prominent customers: the firm helped him secure a Saint Kitts passport in 2009. (When federal agents arrested him in March at a Washington, D.C. airport on charges of evading US sanctions against Iran, he was carrying four passports). A spokesperson for Henley said that the firm had no relationship with Hasheminejad, and that it had rejected a proposal of his to collaborate on Malta’s passport program.

Since Henley lost its position as the primary agent for marketing Dominica and Saint Kitts passports, another London-based citizenship firm called CS Global Partners has risen in its place. Founded and led by a former attorney at Henley and Partners, CS Global Partners is said to have been financed in part by a British-Indian investor named Dev Bath.

Dev Bath, who served as a director at the firm for over a year, remains a consultant to the company. His LinkedIn profile doesn’t mention CS Global Partners, and describes him only by his title, “Special Representative of St. Kitts and Nevis,” which furnishes him with a diplomatic passport to the country.

Dev Bath has also hired Lanny J. Davis, the longtime D.C. lobbyist and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, to help promote Saint Kitts and Dominica passports. In one 2013 advertorial extolling the benefits of investor citizenship, Davis quotes his client, who “became a resident of Saint Kitts many years ago and has become a well-known global business leader.”

In 2017 Davis’s lobbying work on behalf of Saint Kitts raised eyebrows in Parliament, particularly around the question of who paid him and his law firm more than US$96,000. His services—lobbying US and Canadian authorities to lift their restrictions on the country’s passports— “comes at no cost to our government”,  Prime Minister Harris told the National Assembly in 2015. Indeed, as public filings indicate, Davis’s fees were paid by CS Global Partners.

In 2018, one of Dev Bath’s longtime business partners had thrust the country into a fresh storm of bribery allegations. Peter Singh Virdee, a property magnate also of British-Indian descent, had sought to secure solar energy contracts in the Caribbean as part of a renewable energy venture. In one 2016 phone call, disclosed in a British court in May, Virdee described to an associate the need to entertain the prime minister of Saint Kitts and his entourage in London that evening, “so be ready for a big bill.” In another conversation, Virdee, who also holds an Antiguan passport, said that Saint Kitts’s prime minister had asked for a watch and a pair of shoes.

In a preliminary judgment, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency stated that “the claimants were ready and willing to pay bribes, and had given at least one gift to a Caribbean politician.” Virdee, who was arrested in January 2017 at Heathrow Airport on separate charges of a plot to evade millions dollars in carbon credit taxes, has denied any wrongdoing.

Dev Bath and CS Global Partners have not been linked to the allegations surrounding Virdee. In 2018, when asked about Virdee’s association with Bath and Saint Kitts, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s office said that “a historical business relationship that involves CS Global Partners and the country’s CBI program” is now “under review”.

In plain words, the main function of CS Global Partners is helping corrupt individuals and criminals in smuggling cash from one country to another and buy citizenship of some countries such as Dominica, St Kitts etcetera.

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Contents published under this byline are those created by the news team of WeeklyBlitz

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