21 Apr 2015

Expert spies holes in Samoan investment plan

9:27 pm on 21 April 2015

An international immigration and tax lawyer says Samoa's proposed citizenship for investment package is not competitive enough in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Samoa parliament offices.

Samoa parliament offices. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The Citizenship Investment Bill gives citizenship to foreign investors injecting at least two million US dollars into the local economy.

David Lesperance represents high net worth clients around the world looking for a second passport.

He says a credible passport is their most important consideration and a lowered investment threshold could help achieve this.

"Why would a logical person pay two million for this when they could get an equivalent or better travel document for one tenth the price and the reason they may spend ten times the price is they can't pass the security checks of the other jurisdiction?"

Mr Lesperance recommends Samoa uses an internationally recognised background search firm to help in the vetting of applicants.

He says wealthy passport seekers also want an application process that is consistent and speedy.

Mr Lesperance says the scheme has to be a win for the investor, the country and the international community or it will fail.