If you have been thinking about leaving the United States, moving to another country and changing your nationality, it’s never been easier to do. In this era of globalization, citizenship and passports have become just another commodity to be bought and sold on the international market. All you need is money and a willingness to contribute a few hundred thousand dollars to the treasury of a cash-starved country or acquire a piece of real estate there.
It’s called citizenship by investment and, as we first reported in January, it’s become a $2 billion industry built around people looking for a change of scenery or a change of passport, a new life or maybe a new identity, a getaway from the rat race, or perhaps an escape from an ex-spouse or Interpol. In any event, it’s brought in huge amounts of revenue for the sellers and attracted among the buyers a rogue’s gallery of scoundrels, fugitives, tax cheats, and possibly much worse.
If you’re shopping for another passport, the top of the line right now is Malta. By investing a million dollars in this Mediterranean island, a Russian or Chinese or a Saudi can become a European citizen with a new EU passport that will allow them to travel just about anywhere without a visa. There are also much cheaper, less discriminating alternatives available in the Caribbean, especially on the tiny island of Dominica, where Lennox Linton is a member of Parliament.
Steve Kroft: How much does it cost to get a citizenship?
Lennox Linton: $100,000.
Steve Kroft: Do you have to come and live in Dominica?
Lennox Linton: No. No. You don’t even have to come to Dominica to get the citizenship. You pay the money from wherever you are.
Steve Kroft: Sorta just mail order citizenship?
Lennox Linton: Sort of. Something like that.
Our introduction to this world of citizenship by…