16 Mar 2015

Pitfalls addressed in Samoa passport scheme

12:26 pm on 16 March 2015

An academic who's studied passport sales in the region says Samoa's citizenship investment plan appears to have addressed some common pitfalls.

People in Samoa are being asked to give their views on the Citizenship Investment Bill which would give citizenship to foreign investors with at least two million US dollars to spend.

Anthony van Fossen of Australia's Griffith University says the attempt to outlaw agents and the proposal for a vetting committee are among steps which might avoid problems experienced in Marshall Islands and Tonga.

"Particularly the committee and the proposal of quite complete public accountability. Those are very good measures. It took the Tonga monarchy many years to achieve anything even remotely like what's being proposed in Samoa in terms of transparency."

Dr van Fossen says his research shows even legitimate citizenship programmes do nothing to stop the illegal and uncontrolled sale of passports.

Samoa government building, Apia.

Samoa government building, Apia. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades