Citizenship on sale for Indian fugitives; Cyprus a top destination

Go, going, gone!

As Indian probe agencies try to nab absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi who, as authorities found, possessed a total of 6 passports, fleeing the country has never been so easy. For the likes of Nirav, all that needs to be done is to pay up and become a citizen in another country.

How to get citizenship of another country?

At present, countries like Dominica, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, St Kitts, Malta, or Cyprus offer citizenship between 3 to 4 months for investment between $100,000 and $2.4 million. Since India does not allow dual citizenship, many prefer a permanent residency outside India rather than seeking citizenship of another country.

Citizenship via real estate

In many countries, a real estate investment can also fetch citizenship in a few months. For example in Cyprus, investors are required to purchase a real estate in Cyprus for a minimum of EUR 2,000,000 and hold it for 3 years.

The chase gets harder

Although citizenship is not granted to defaulters of bank loans and tax evaders, applicants whose offences remain unknown could end up getting it anyway. This would mean not only mean that the accused can no longer be tries as an Indian national, but it would also imply that the authorities' chase would get more difficult as the accused would get access to several countries with the issuance of a new passport.

What have Indian NRIs been up to?

According to the report by New World Wealth, 7,000 ultra- rich Indians shifted overseas in 2017. One can simply buy the citizenship of countries for a sum of say $100,000 to begin with. For the wealthy who are looking to evade tax or even legal proceeding in Indian courts, there is nothing better than the firms helping them get permanent residencies in such countries.

Caribbean charm

For many well-heeled Indians, it’s an escape route to an easier tax regime and jurisdiction promising friendlier business climate. The Caribbean, for example, is one such popular destination for three reasons primarily:1. Citizenship is granted in exchange of a contribution of $100,000 to a government fund2. Passports allow visa-free travel to 120 countries 3. Currencies are pegged to the dollar and there is no tax on foreign income, capital gains, imports, gift, inheritance and wealth.

The Dubai connection

Specialised firms, with offices in Dubai and other financial centres, meet Indian chartered accountants and lawyers in UAE to sense the market and target potential clients; some even send their men to attend seminars in India to build contacts .

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