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The Big Debate: Citizenship by Investment

Economic Citizenship – Do Your Due Diligence

By Burke Files, President, FEE Inc, United States

Citizenship is a privilege granted by birth, heritage, or earned over time. Economic citizenship is a privilege earned rapidly through investment of one’s savings. Citizenship earned over a period of time including a time in residency, typically three to five years, allows a country time to assess a candidate’s history and deeds before citizenship is conferred. Economic citizenship does not have a long time frame for assessment. Thus, a nation’s due diligence and background screening of candidates petitioning for economic citizenship is required to be aggressive and comprehensive.

What matters in the consideration of a candidate for citizenship? Everything matters. A nation must review a candidate’s personal, educational, and commercial histories, the family members, the references, even how the application is filled out. Everything matters.

Experience tells all involved to be diligent. In the United States, according to an article in the American Management Association, one out of seven résumés have material errors and almost one in two résumés, according to GradHub, have credential overreach or falsehoods. Citizenship programs cannot accept the same sloppy backgrounds done on public company officers like Yahoo’s former CEO Scott Thompson who claimed a degree he did not possess.
A candidate’s family matters. Even respected families may be populated with less than reputable or suspect members. Subtle issues that must be weighed arise when a candidate is a relative of: PEP, a SDN, a criminal, or a person on a sanctions list. Family ties are ties that bind, but how close and tight is a valid question to put to the candidate. An economic citizenship program is, by its nature both domestically and internationally, a politically frail program that may not survive if citizenships are conferred upon dodgy applicants.

All economic citizenship programs should rest upon a foundation of many qualified professional services providers. A nation can only magnify the known political risk by concentrating the risk in a single service provider. If there is only one service provider and an unacceptable candidate slips through, the entire program becomes suspect as opposed to being just the error of one of a number of service providers.

Lies and inauthenticity through commission and by omission are a sure way for a candidate petitioning for citizenship in exchange for investment to be rejected. The various nation’s ministries understand a candidate may have had business failures and litigation, or may not even possess a higher degree – it is part of life. The citizenship programs are looking for a candidate’s authenticity – not perfection. If an applicant cannot tell the truth why would any nation bother conferring citizenship?

The background checks and due diligence research, is part of the process to protect the integrity of the nation and of their citizenship by investment programs. Banks and financial institutions worldwide are required to do their KYC. Countries offering economic citizenship embrace Know Your Citizen.

Nations only confer citizenship to aggressively and thoroughly vetted applicants. Economic citizenship and the screening process is about authenticity and integrity and the defense of the nation’s reputation.

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