A smart businessman knows to never express an opinion on any legal matter, if he is a non-lawyer, and a good attorney is aware of the risks when he talks to clients about legal issues in countries where he is not admitted to practice. Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to those CBI consultancies not actually located in the five countries of the East Caribbean that offer economic citizenship to affluent individuals from high-risk jurisdictions who are seeking a second passport. Those firms freely offer advice notwithstanding that they are no way qualified to do so, all to the potential damage of their clients.
In truth and in fact, none of the principal international consultancies have qualified attorneys present on premises, in Europe, the Middle East, Asia or elsewhere, who are admitted to the practice of law in the East Caribbean. Why is is important, you ask ?
If your European "legal consultant," who professes to have all the answers, regarding the jurisdiction he is directing you invest your money, to obtain a second passport from, does not know the local law, how can he correctly navigate you through a potential minefield, specific to that country, such as:
(1) The possible future revocation of your citizenship, as well as your prized passport. Antigua is presently discussing passing such a law, but does the country recommended to you have the right to do so, at this time ? Remember the case of the Iranian Alireza Monfared, and his two passports, obtained from Dominica.
(2) Will the country recommended to you "lower the tax boom" at a later date ? Are those permanent assurances of tax holiday in the country's laws, and have you received an opinion, from a local attorney duly qualified, about this issue ?
(3) What are the possible tax ramifications, to your present nationality, if you get that second passport, and move assets offshore ?
(4) Has the selected country ever been, or is it now, a Blacklisted jurisdiction, from any regulatory agency, which could put you in the cross-hairs of US, or EU law enforcement agencies in the future ? You do not want to become a Person of Interest, simply because of the misconduct of others.
(5) Is the country selected for you by the consultancy, only a nominal democracy, but actually a dictatorship, which could conceivably be overthrown, and your status simply terminated, with no legal recourse ?
(6) Does the local court system regularly follow the Rule of Law, or are decisions handed down, based upon political pressure of the ruling party ? In that case, you may not be able to have legitimate business grievances addressed to your satisfaction.
(7) What about the country's criminal justice system ? Is it fair and impartial, or could you end up in jail, without a trial, for years, if anything you do incurs the wrath of local leaders ?
The bottom line: if your mind is made up about obtaining a CBI passport, by all means, go to the jurisdiction, and engage a local attorney to answer those questions, in advance, prior to investing. To do otherwise is literally playing with fire.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Senior Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant