By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) has cleared the air about whether potential economic citizens can purchase St Kitts and Nevis citizenship using the virtual currency Bitcoins.
Media outlets including Forbes
have published stories that former US national and millionaire investor Roger Ver is offering to accept Bitcoins for citizenship by investment applicants to St Kitts and Nevis.
Ver is the founder of Passports for Bitcoins.com and was himself granted St Kitts and Nevis citizenship earlier this year despite having a previous criminal record, something that is specifically proscribed by the programme rules.
Questions have been raised about whether it is legal to accept Bitcoins as payment from someone applying for citizenship through Basseterre’s programme.
In a June 24 posting on its website, the CIU issued a warning, making it clear that Bitcoins would not be accepted.
The CIU said in its statement that it would like to assure the general public that it does not recognize Bitcoins as legal investment currency for financial transactions within the country’s citizenship by investment programme.
It added: “We further emphasize that we do not accept Bitcoins, have never accepted Bitcoins, and will not accept Bitcoins.”
According to the CIU, it only accepts and processes investment applications from licensed authorized persons, meaning service providers whose transactions are conducted through internationally recognized banking institutions.
It says these institutions adhere to international financial regulations and only handle traditionally acceptable currencies such as the Pound Sterling, the Euro, the US Dollar and the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.
Former government minister Dwyer Astaphan recently expressed some concern about the Bitcoins development.
According to Astaphan, Bitcoins is not an official currency.
He said too that it wasn’t clear whether the country’s constitution or the laws of St Kitts and Nevis allow Bitcoins to be a currency to be used in any dealing to do with anything in the federation.
Bitcoins is a form of virtual currency, meaning if you have Bitcoins you do not physically purchase goods by handing notes or tokens to the seller.
Bitcoins are used for electronic purchases and transfers.
The CIU said it is currently carrying out an investigation into the online advertisements related to Bitcoins and the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme.
The Unit has warned that any company found to be engaged in the practice in association with Basseterre’s programme will have its licence revoked and struck from the register of authorized persons.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network