19 Jan 2021

Middle Eastern firm under investigation for marketing Vanuatu citizenship

4:31 pm on 19 January 2021

Vanuatu immigration authorities are investigating a Middle Eastern firm after it's staff posted videos online marketing the Pacific country's citizenship.

The Vanuatu flag flying above the buildings of the public broadcaster VBTC

The Vanuatu flag flying above the buildings of the public broadcaster VBTC Photo: RNZ/Sally Round

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported the videos show staff from the firm Global Migrate displaying Vanuatu passports and National ID cards.

The Vanuatu National Citizenship Commission confirmed launching an investigation into the matter.

Its chairman Ronald Warsal said the firm was not officially registered or authorised to promote the Vanuatu citizenship programme.

"It is of vital importance that we retain our Citizenship Programme for the benefit of Vanuatu, and since the appointment of the current chairman of the Citizenship Commission, those Commission has made it its priority to ensure that the program operational standards are raised, with better management and control," Ronald Warsal said.

The lucrative program which raked in $US106 million in government revenue last year, allows foreigners to purchase honorary Vanuatu citizenship starting at $US130,000 for an individual applicant.

There is ongoing public criticism of the program but it's contribution to government revenue has been magnified by the drop off in tourism due to the pandemic.

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