A second passport for Rs. 1.3 crores! That’s exactly what Mehul Choksi did

Mehul Choksi cites poor health as reason for not returning to India

As Mehul Choksi’s location finally comes out in the open, a larger question emerges about how easy it is for fugitives to procure passports in other countries.

Diamond magnate and now a fugitive on the run, Choksi is not in the US (as earlier reported) but in Antigua, one of the two major Caribbean islands that make up the sovereign nation of Antigua and Barbuda. And it is not with an Indian passport but through one from Antigua itself.

Fraudsters like Mehul Choksi choose small countries to escape from the law as these countries offer citizenship based on money power. The country’s local laws allow people to get citizenship in order to attract investment opportunities.

The Caribbean islands are a hotspot for people seeking citizenship. The process is very simple with just one aim – the person needs to invest in the infrastructure and development fund of the country. They can then procure a second passport and citizenship, without having lived there even for a day or being born there.

So how does it work? Simple.

Countries like Antigua allow you to live permanently in their country if you can make an investment. Some of the options available are as follows –
• Pay Rs. 1.3 crores to the Antigua National Development Fund or
• Rs. 2.7 crores investment in real estate or property in authorised areas or
• Rs. 10.3 crores investment in a business there.

Fulfilment of any of these options can fetch you the country’s passport.

The perks of having this passport –
This simple investment gives the person access to 132 countries including all Schengen countries and UK.

The clause to retain his citizenship? Stay for five days over five years. That’s it!

Other examples with similar rules –
• St. Kitts and Nevis is another such example.
• An approximate investment of Rs. 1.3 crores can give you a passport with access to 141 countries.
• Dominica can get you an irrevocable citizenship for as low as Rs. 68 lacs.
• St Lucia and Malta are other countries where similar rules apply.

The startling part – this then becomes easy entry for fugitives and people who need to hide from their countries’ watch dogs. The uber rich can easily shell out this money and get a second passport.

The only relief is that Antigua does have a clause which says that if the applicant is subject to criminal investigation, then he will be considered an ineligible applicant.

Here’s hoping that Mehul Choksi can quickly be extradited under this clause.

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