Warning: Avoid Black Market and Grey Market Passports!

by Mark Nestmann The Nestmann Group, Ltd.

Recently by Mark Nestmann: Cuba: No More Exit Visas!

Every day, I receive messages promising residence and/or passports from Bulgaria, Cambodia, Paraguay, and other countries, in exchange for relative modest fees, under circumstances that appear to have no basis in law.

I’ve heard from individuals who have started the process of acquiring residence under these processes. The general procedure appears to involve the promoter’s local representative or attorney passing envelopes full of cash to government employees.

The consequences of “citizenship through bribery” can be severe. First, the resulting documents often suffer from serious legal defects. For instance, the passport may not be accompanied by a certificate of naturalization. Without this document, it may not be possible to renew the passport, to use it to enter and leave the country, or even to open a local bank account. (See this post for other consequences of using such “grey market” or “black market” travel documents.)

Second, U.S. citizens and permanent residents who bribe, or cause to be bribed, foreign government officials, violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA criminalizes giving, or even offering, “anything of value” to a foreign government official in exchange for the official’s influence to assist in obtaining or retaining business or securing an improper advantage. Certainly, bribing an official in a South American country in exchange for a residence permit or passport would be considered to be “securing an improper advantage.”

My advice: Stick with “white market” economic citizenship programs like those in effect in the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis and the Commonwealth of Dominica. Or, with bona-fide economic residence programs such as that recently introduced in Ireland.

The Nestmann Group, Ltd. can assist individuals seeking a legitimate white-market passport through an economic contribution or investment in Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, and in selected EU countries. Please contact us for more information.