Citizenship-by-investment programs are becoming popular in the Caribbean, appealing to those looking to avoid taxes in their home countries, regional experts told Efe Wednesday.
In 1984, St. Kitts and Nevis was the first country in the region to offer such a program. Since then, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda and Turks and Caicos have joined the initiative.
Puerto Rican lawyer Christian Sobrino told Efe that for Caribbean islands heavily dependent on tourism, these programs are seen as a way to fund infrastructure projects and economic and social development.
“It’s an additional approach to meet those goals,” Sobrino said.
According to St. Kitts and Nevis’s program Web site, anyone interested in acquiring citizenship must make a $250,000 donation to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation or invest $400,000 in real estate projects previously approved by the government.
Lawyer Edgardo Rios told Efe that citizenship-through-investment plans are mainly attractive to people who live in countries that tax citizens regardless of their place of residence.
“The last time I checked, 25 countries were part of worldwide taxation, which means they are pursuing their own citizens for merely being citizens and urge them to pay taxes even if you don’t live there anymore,” he said.
Sobrino emphasized that the Caribbean is the most attractive region for investors for its general image as tourist paradise and the political, economic and diplomatic relations the islands have with the former European colonial powers.
Grenada is the only Caribbean jurisdiction so far that had to cancel their citizenship-through-investment program after accusations of money laundering.
In 2013, Grenada revived the initiative, increasing the upfront fee from $40,000 to about $310,000.