Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Many of the global companies hawking Citizenship by Investment (CBI) passports are located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is puzzling, because UAE law expressly prohibits its nationals from holding dual citizenship, under any circumstances. In fact, it is difficult for foreign nationals to acquire Emirati citizenship, unless you marry one for at least three years, or live there for thirty years, unless you are from the small list of Arab countries which allows you to become an Emirati in only a couple of years. So why has the country become a haven for the sales of citizenships of other countries, where there are no such restrictions ?

For example, at this time there are no less than thirteen agents, authorized by the Commonwealth of Dominica, all of which operate out of Dubai, except on is in Sharjah (Montreal Management Consultants Est. Ltd.). One company, Citizenship Invest, lists a Roseau address, but has a Dubai telephone number.

CBI consultancies are an unregulated industry in the UAE, which exists in a gap between being strictly a sales organization and a law firm.

(1) Its senior staff, many of whom refer to themselves as "legal specialists" and not lawyers, seem to be supplying legal advice to their applicants, but even those who are law school graduates from somewhere abroad are not formally admitted to practice in the UAE. I leave it the experts as to whether they are engaged in the unlicensed practice of law.

(2) the frontline sales people tout the positive advantages of the various CBI programs, but rarely, if ever, spell out the possibility of negative events down the line, such as that revocation of an applicant's CBI passport is completely within the discretion of the jurisdiction that issued it, and that the local courts will obey the wishes of local leaders, not adhere to the rule of law, should you seek a legal remedy for any reason.

Our issues:

 (A) We wonder just how much of the application fees, costs and revenues generated by CBI sales in the UAE is diverted, and never arrives at the Treasury of the Commonwealth of Dominica

(B) Given that there is no oversight or regulatory control over CBI consultancies in the UAE, what legal remedies are available to an unhappy client who has lost money, or been cheated out of his promised passport and deposit, or is in need legal or equitable relief of some sort ? There is no agency designated to assist him in the UAE, and the consultancy, which is composed of expats, might simply close up shop and relocates outside the Middle East, having Already moved its cash to another offshore financial center. Such remedies as the local courts may offer may be too little and too late to obtain any recovery. There may even be venue and Forum Non Conveniens issues, especially where the client is in one part of the world, the CBI consultancy in another, its local agent in still another, and the CBI jurisdiction in yet another country.

On balance, applicants who choose to do business with a UAE-based CBI consultancy are shouldering a substantial amount of risk, especially since none of them appear to have personal lawyers assisting them in making an objective assessment of the situation, and in entering into an ironclad contractual relationship with what cold be a dodgy salesman, working for a dodgy firm; Let the applicant beware.

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