Passports for cash: the countries selling citizenship to tax havens

Tax-free St. Kitts is now the world’s most popular place to buy a passport

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The Independent Online

Citizenship has been turned into a commodity by countries including Cyprus, Grenada, Antigua, Malta and St. Kitts in the Caribbean, which is now the most popular place in the world to buy a passport - for as little as $250,000.

The draw? Little or no tax. New citizens of St. Kitts pay no tax on income or capital gains, have little requirement to disclose financial details and get travel to 132 countries, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Buyers are not even required to visit the tiny country of 48,000 people, situated a short three-hour flight south of Miami in the West Indies.

St. Kitts’s economy is now far ahead of its island neighbours post- financial crisis thanks to the scheme. Meanwhile the lawyer responsible is in demand to turn citizenship into a commodity elsewhere.

Albania, Croatia, Jamaica, Montenegro, and Slovenia are also reportedly looking at selling citizenship.

The practice is legal but morally questionable. Nicholas Shaxson, author of a book about tax havens, told Bloomberg that the industry feeds into a culture of corruption in poor countries that make a business of ignoring their own laws. "These smaller jurisdictions haven't got anything to sell besides 'we’ll let you do anything you want,'" he said.