Grenada Suspends 'Economic Citizenship' Program, Citing Risks

Grenada has suspended its program of allowing foreigners to buy passports, saying the practice was too risky after the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Introduced three years ago, the economic citizenship program sold passports for about $39,000.

"Grenadian passports can end up in the wrong hands and be used for purposes other than for that which they were intended," Grenada Finance Minister Anthony Boatswain said Friday.

Grenada is among several Caribbean islands that have turned to such "economic citizenship" programs in recent years, including Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The program drew criticism even before the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, with some saying the practice allowed criminals to effectively adopt new legal identities for a price.

Grenada also recently was placed on an international blacklist of countries considered uncooperative in fighting money laundering.

It was unclear whether Grenada's decision to suspend the economic citizenship program was related to the blacklisting.

Officials say the suspension will cost the island between $1.8 million and $2.2 million yearly.