Second passport investment scams set to lose applicants their passports and cash

Published:  19 Feb at 6 PM
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The must-have accessory for mega-wealthy expats in the UAE is now a second passport, but recent purchasers may now lose their investments as well as their passport privileges.

The numbers of millionaire expats in the UAE applying for a second passport have increased by 30 per cent over the past year or so, with between hundreds of thousands to millions of dirhams the going prices for the privilege of worldwide visa free travel, citizenship and trouble-free residency in the issuing country. However, recent applicants are keeping their fingers and toes crossed as news breaks about fraudulent second passport agencies. A number of agencies selling the investment deals for Caribbean countries have now been accused of circumventing legal requirements as well as forging required documents.

Caribbean nations’ passports seem to have had a special appeal for wealthy GCC expats and residents, as they give access to 130 different countries on a visa-free basis. Recent slashing of Caribbean states’ prices due to the need to rebuild infrastructure after a series of devastating hurricanes has fuelled even more applications from the GCC region. However, it seems agencies tasked with selling the passports both in the UAE and in the countries involved have circumvented legal requirements as well as forging documents, thus depriving the governments concerned of large quantities of valuable foreign currency.

The rumours are being taken seriously, especially in the St Kitts and Nevis parliament which, late last year, tabled a vote of no-confidence in PM Dr Timothy Harris. According to one Dubai-based law firm specialising in second passports, the fall-out from the scandal could well result in those who’d bought the passports having them cancelled as well as losing their initial investments. Agencies are heavily discounting CBI schemes by use of real estate trickery in order to sell the second passports at way below government-set rates, a move which seems to have encouraged even more interest in the schemes.

As a result, all transactions involving Domenica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and St Lucia over the past four years are now under investigation. Total application numbers are believed to be around 6,000, with revoked citizenship and lost investments expected to be the result. The agencies pushing the schemes are reputed to be making an average of $100,000 per application, with the former St Kitts and Nevis PM telling reporters he’s unable to explain how agents could be selling the passports for less than the stated, fixed price.
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