Roger Ver’s Passport of Bitcoins initiative, first reported several weeks ago, now appears to be a complete bust. Ver was reportedly arranging the sale of St. Kitts citizenship for with bitcoins and helping the island become a Bitcoin paradise. The pitch was geared toward wealthy Americans or other nationals looking to escape alleged onerous tax and governance systems.
In a notice titled “Warning”, the St. Kitts-Nevis website denies on the strongest of terms any connection between Bitcoin and its citizenship process, or support for Ver’s initiative. It does not recognize bitcoins as investment currency for its program. To put the nail in the coffin:
“We further emphasize that we do not accept Bitcoins, have never accepted Bitcoins, and will not accept Bitcoins.”
Furthermore, it is investigating the “online advertisements” and “any company found to be engaged in this practice in association with our program will have its license revoked and struck from the register of Authorised Persons.”
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Interestingly, the Bloomberg report mentioned correspondence with two figures from the island’s government. The press secretary didn’t respond to inquiries, but “a woman who answered the phone at the Office of the Prime Minister said the program is ‘not a matter of buying passports, it’s about gaining citizenship.’”
An individual named Paul Bilzerian is described in the Bloomberg article as a licensed government processor, who declined to comment. St. Kitts, however, says that he is “not a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis, neither an Authorised Person (Service Provider) in the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program.”
Ver’s site, passportsforbitcoin.com, no longer displays the program. Rather, it redirects to bitcoin.com, a domain owned by blockchain.info.
A Forbes article written in response to the original Bloomberg report also points out that a passport to St. Kitts was of little value anyway. Tax obligations are determined by country of residence. St. Kitts passport holders living in the US or most other countries have the same tax obligations despite their new passport. Conversely, those living on St. Kitts will enjoy the tax breaks even without the passport.