Former Chief Executive Officer of Google Eric Schmidt has begun finalizing a plan to seek citizenship from the Republic of Cyprus, becoming one of the highest-profile Americans to take advantage of controversial programmes “passport-for-sale".
The new passport would give Schmidt access to the European Union as well as access to a more favourable tax regime.
Schmidt and his family have won approval to become citizens of the Mediterranean nation, Recode reported, according to a previously unreported notice in a Cypriot publication in October.
It is still unclear as to why the former CEO has sought out this foreign citizenship.
Schmidt's decision is very similar to that of Peter Thiel, another famous tech billionaire who tried to secure citizenship in New Zealand back in 2011, the report said.
But largely, this move is a peer into the world of billionaires and how they can maximize their freedoms and finances via reliance on permissive laws of countries in which they are not citizens.
According to Recode, Schmidt declined to comment on the move or Schmidt’s thinking.
What is the Cyprus Programme?
According to the report, the Cyprus programme is one of the half-dozen programmes in the world where foreigners can effectively purchase citizenship rights, skipping past residency requirements or lengthy lines, by simply making a payment or investment in the host country.
It is the most recent method being deployed by billionaires around the world to take advantage of foreign countries’ laws, moving themselves offshore just as they would other assets.
Countries that are small in size and struggle financially have accepted this method over the decades to bring in money into their economies that they would never see, in exchange for citizenship papers.
However, anti-corruption activists have gotten worried about this practice. They have expressed concern over criminals being given the ability to foreign citizenship which they may use to escape prosecution in their home countries, funnel drugs through friendly borders, or to hide their assets from tax authorities.