A project to accept Bitcoins in exchange for citizenship to the tropical island nation St. Kitts & Nevis has been derailed by the local government, which is refusing to recognize the cryptocurrency as a valid form of investment and threatening to revoke the licenses of any agents who do.
“The Citizenship by Investment Unit would like to assure the general public that we do not recognize Bitcoins as legal investment currency for financial transactions within our Citizenship by Investment Programme,” officials said in a statement titled ‘Warning!’ on the program’s website. “We further emphasize that we do not accept Bitcoins, have never accepted Bitcoins, and will not accept Bitcoins.”
The news strikes a mortal blow to the nascent Passports for Bitcoin project, founded by renowned Bitcoin investor Roger Ver, which was attempting to use Bitcoins as an acceptable contribution to the country’s already-existing citizenship investment program.
- Roger Ver
Since 1984, wannabe-citizens have been able to pay their way to a St. Kitts passport by either purchasing local real estate worth $400,000 or more, or donating at least $250,000 to a local “sugar industry diversification” fund.
Ver, along with millionaire poker player Dan Bilzerian, and Pavel Durov (founder of Russian social media site VKontakte) all claim to have bought citizenship to the balmy island-nation, albeit via fiat currency.
The local government will only accept applications from licensed and authorised individuals, and applications must be processed through internationally recognized banking institutions, authorities said.
“These institutions adhere to international financial regulations and only handle traditionally acceptable currencies such as the United Kingdom Pound Sterling, the European Union Euro, the United States US Dollar and the Eastern Caribbean EC Dollar,” the statement said, adding that officials would investigate online advertisements for the program and revoke the licenses of any agent found to be accepting Bitcoins for citizenship.
Taking pains to directly contradict a recent Bloomberg story on the Passports for Bitcoin program, authorities also noted that former corporate raider Paul Bilzerian (father of the above-mentioned Dan Bilzerian) was neither a St. Kitts citizen nor a valid application-processing agent for the program.
The Bloomberg article, published last month, claimed that Bilzerian not only held a St. Kitts passport but was also the agent who personally processed Ver’s citizenship application.
Ver appeared to have personally provided the information about Bilzerian to Bloomberg, however, leaving the former corporate takeover specialist’s relationship to the program unclear following the government’s denial of any association.
Ver did not respond to a request for comment by the time of this article’s publication.
The former Passports for Bitcoin website, meanwhile, now redirects to Bitcoin.com – a domain with a shadowy and much-investigated history of ownership which is now run by Blockchain.
St. Kitts & Nevis – 1, Bitcoin – 0. Strike, sadly, a passport to St. Kitts off the list of things now available to buy with Bitcoin.
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