High net-worth Indians follow Mehul Choksi's footsteps to acquire second passport; St Kitts, St Lucia among most popular countries

Ever since fugitive diamantaire and bank-fraud accused Mehul Choksi, allegedly involved in over $2 billion scam in the Punjab and National Bank, got an Antigua citizenship last year, he has inadvertently triggered an interest from other high net-worth individuals to follow suit. Any one can buy a citizenship in some countries in return for investment, media reports said. An Antiguan passport provides visa-free travel to 132 countries.

India does not allow dual citizenship. "There is an automatic loss of Indian citizenship covered in Section 9(1) of the Citizenship act 1955, which lays down any citizen of India who by naturalisation or registration acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of India.”

The Russians and the Chinese dominate the second passport and citizenship landscape and continue to do so. Global enquiries has shown 320 percent rise in second citizenship but inquiries from Indian businessmen have increased 70-80 percent increase year on year, said a UK-based firm. The reasons for the clamour for the second citizenship range from lifestyle, education, transport, clean air and healthcare, a Times of India report said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The most popular countries are Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts, Cyprus, Portugal and Thailand. The cost of getting a citizenship range from $50,000 to over $2 million and takes 3-6 months. Businessmen look for friendlier regimes, a TOI report said.

The price for citizenship in Dominica and St Lucia is around $100,000 and 2 million euros to get an EU passport for Cyprus. A citizenship can be procured in most countries through a donation to a sovereign fund or by buying real estate or through investment. Besides these, there are certain clearances that the host country does like checking the applicant for criminal records, pending investigations, etc.

Choksi had taken the citizenship of Antigua in November 2017, and oath of allegiance on 15 January this year, according to a local newspaper Antigua Observer.

"My application was motivated by my desire to expand my business interest in the Caribbean and to obtain visa-free travel access to 130 or so countries," the statement said, adding that he was in the United States in January 2018 for medical treatment," he said.

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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2018 16:05:29 IST

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