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LONDON – The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu denied it is accepting payments in Bitcoin for its $200,000 citizenship program.
“The Citizenship Office, representing the Citizenship Commission, is presenting to the media and other agencies in Vanuatu, that the Citizenship Office has not got any legal confirmation on any so called Bitcoin payments as stated in the media outlets,” Acting General Secretary Samuel Garae said, according to the Vila Times.
“The Office of the Citizenship is giving an assurance to all the Citizenship Designated Agents, that all the payments concerning the DSP program will still be in US dollars as prescribed by the Citizenship Regulations,” he said.
“Any other arrangement made by any sub-agent will not be considered by the Citizenship Office.”
Vanuatu is a member of the Commonwealth and citizenship provides visa-free travel to 113 countries including the UK, Russia and European Union states.
Vanuatu also advertises its low taxes for citizenship buyers, offering a second passport in a country that levies no capital gains or income taxes. Potential citizens don’t need to live in Vanuatu, or even visit the country once.
Earlier a group known as the Vanuatu Information Centre Network said that the country had started to accept the cryptocurrency.
The multi-billion dollar investment migration industry, which sees governments offering visas and citizenship to people in return for investments in local businesses and property, has boomed amid increased global uncertainty over borders and immigration.
Earlier this year, the Thai government started offering “elite” residency visas for wealthy foreign citizens, allowing them to live in the country for around $3,000 (£2,403) a year.
There are seven different packages, with the most expensive being the “Elite Ultimate Privilege” scheme. It costs $60,000 for 20 years residency, along with a $600 a year membership fee.
Included in the price is a state-sponsored concierge programme, entitling members to VIP access to government agencies dealing with immigration, driving licences, and work permits.