A growing number of individuals are considering second passports as a way to facilitate movement and business. Citizenship by investment schemes have been around for over a decade now. They make it possible to gain an additional passport by investing in the economy of certain countries.
However, there is an elephant in the room. These passport programs have received quite a lot of negative press in recent years. The criticism has come from the European Commission, the European Union, and civil society. It’s largely due to the work of investigative journalists who have uncovered various scandals in several jurisdictions. This has led to the EC calling for an end to the programs run by EU countries like Malta and Cyprus.
Where did these second passport controversies come from?
Citizenship by investment is usually acquired when an individual contacts an agent who then assists them in applying. The agent carries out due diligence, and all required documents are compiled and submitted to the authorities. Usually, a state will have a specific department that processes these documents and conducts additional due diligence. Citizenship is granted after all requirements and checks have been satisfied.
The problem is that some agents do not conduct their due diligence properly. Investigations have revealed complicity in hiding criminal records, falsifying documents (property purchases, rental agreements, investment documents, etc), or using the acquisition of a second passport to avoid sanctions or criminal charges.
But it gets even more complicated. Some companies involved in facilitating the sale of passports have even been revealed to be working with governments to push through applications of nefarious clients. Allegations of kickbacks, corruption, and shadowy meetings have plagued several states’ programs.
Furthermore, the use of these programs has raised concerns over money laundering and tax evasion. There are also cases where individuals from sanctioned countries have used second passports to conduct business that would be illegal with their native passports. The EC, in particular, has been clear that programs need more transparency, oversight, and due diligence.
Is a second passport ethical?
If a sovereign country has set up a program whereby through investment and meeting certain obligations, an individual can acquire citizenship, then it is ethical. If that passport is acquired through lying, concealing information, paying bribes, or using the proceeds of crime, it’s unethical.
After all, there are many reasons why people seek second citizenship. These include escaping persecution and violence, facilitating better business opportunities, lessening discrimination, and wanting a better future for children. These are all valid reasons, and if an individual or family can afford to, why not? As long as you and your agent are compliant with all applicable national laws, there is no problem.
Negating the risks
Much of the controversy around “cash-for-passport schemes” comes from working with shady or less than reputable companies. Some firms bend the rules or are involved in schemes to profit from citizenship at the expense of others involved. Here’s how to avoid them.
Pick a reputable agent
The best way to stay clear of scandals is to choose your corporate service provider wisely. Don’t use an agent involved in acquiring passports for less than reputable people or one that promises you success with your application.
If an agent makes promises or says you can still get citizenship without meeting obligations, this is a red flag, and it’s best to look elsewhere.
As a part of due diligence, you provide your identity documents, criminal record checks, and source of funds information. You’ll also have to declare whether you are a PEP. Different jurisdictions have different rules, and they may require you to satisfy residency requirements or demonstrate genuine links. Be honest at every step. Be open about who you are, and do not try to falsify or conceal information.
Do things by the book
First of all, ensure that dual citizenship is not illegal in your country. Some countries only allow applications for another citizenship through a special permit, others have strict laws against them. Next, check with your agent to discover the obligations and rules of the jurisdiction you are interested in. Do not attempt to cut corners, and if your agent does this, look somewhere else.
Fast Offshore and getting a second passport
Second citizenship is a lifeline for many. It facilitates a better life, more security, increased business opportunities, and a safer future for children. As long as you’re honest and work with a professional, there is no reason your second passport should cause concern.
For over 23 years, Fast Offshore has built a sterling reputation. We have no intention of throwing it away for a second citizenship client. Therefore, we adhere to all rules, regulations, and policies laid down by each citizenship program. We are honest about fees, transparent about the process, and will not make unethical promises.
As well as the second passport application process, we also help with bank account opening, investments, and company incorporation. With a portfolio of services covering key business sectors, we can help with licensing, payment providers, and compliance. To ask questions, seek answers, or just get some friendly advice, contact us today for a chat!
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