When I was in a plane the other day, and was reading the in-flight magazine with more than usual diligence, I was surprised to see a several-page advert advertising 'citizenship by investment' in a variety of different Caribbean countries (it was from this company, but the same services are also available from this company and no doubt others). I'm probably a bit naive not to have known about this kind of thing before and my first reaction was the obvious one: there are thousands of people in the world who dont have effective citizenship of any nation, and here there was extra citizenship being advertised for a considerable amount of money to the rich, as an 'add-on' for those who already had a passport from somewhere else. There was something about it being in the in-flight magazine that somehow made it worse, as if stretching out <sic> your legs on some international flight, your thoughts might turn to a bit of citizenship-buying, rather than to the duty free.
But then I got to the nitty gritty. One thing was the price, and the differentials. Why I wondered did it require a $250,000 investment in St Kitt's 'Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation' for a fast track to a passport, but only a $200,000 investment into the 'National Development Fund' for a similar deal in Antigua. Was there something rather less desirable about Antigua? There didn't seem to be. And, in any case, there wasn't in either offer the need to set foot in the place to get the passport. (There's a 'citizenship-by-investment' comparison website here.)
But the general advantage you would get from your investment seemed pretty clear: in just a few months, you get visa-free travel to a large number of countries, including the EU. This is the St Kitt's list. Nationals of some countries are banned from these investment deals (if you are an Afghan citizen, don't get your hopes up), and there is due diligence on criminal records etc, but it's an easy way if you are from China or Russia or Sudan of getting a 'free' pass around the world.
A bit of Caribbean money-making I thought; not something 'we Europeans' would do.