May 21, 2014
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile
Yesterday the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued some new guidance warning US banks against working with individuals holding passports from the Commonwealth of St. Kitts and Nevis.
As you may be aware, St. Kitts is one of many nations to offer a ‘citizenship by investment’ program.
This is a program where an investor can obtain citizenship in St. Kitts, and a passport, by making a financial investment in the country.
In the case of St. Kitts, this can be either a ~$250,000 non-refundable donation to the St. Kitts Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or investing $400,000 in an approved real estate project.
There are a number of other fees inolved as well, including lawyer fees (naturally), due diligence fees, and more.
But when it’s all said and done, applicants can have a passport from St. Kitts in as little as six months.
Now, as we’ve discussed before, there are a lot of other ways to obtain citizenship.
It’s possible to obtain citizenship by ancestry. For example, if your grandparents are Irish or Italian.
It’s also possible to obtain citizenship through naturalization. Here in Chile, for example, you can become a citizen after five years of total residency.
But some people are on a compressed timeline. They’re looking to obtain another passport as quickly as possible, often because they want to renounce their US citizenship.
This is a rapidly growing trend– more and more people each year are divorcing themselves from the US government, and its tax system, by renouncing US citizenship and giving up their US passports.
And while it’s not required to have another passport to renounce your US citizenship, it’s a good idea.
After all, without a second passport, you’d find it very difficult to be able to travel anywhere.
So for some people, St. Kitts citizenship represents a great opportunity to rapidly acquire another passport so that they can accelerate their divorce from the US government.
I have to imagine this displeases Uncle Sam. After all, the trend of Americans giving up their citizenship is growing so quickly that it’s now making front page news each quarter when they release the statistics.
One way to slow the trend? Put pressure on the St. Kitts economic citizenship program.
That’s exactly what the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has done; in yesterday’s announcement, they blasted the St. Kitts government’s “lax controls” and said that “illicit actors” (aka ‘terrorists’) are using the program to obtain St. Kitts passports.
FinCEN asserts that several Iranian nationals who were granted citizenship there (cue the ominous music) as if being Iranian is some sort of crime.
In doing so, they’re effectively labeling St. Kitts a safeharbor for terrorists… which is pretty much a death sentence for the economic citizenship program.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see some major modifications coming out of the program, or even an outright freeze.
More to follow on this story.