The reasons to have a second passport are many, but for the world's wealthy elite, they have often amounted to what Canadian immigration lawyer David Lesperance called "the backup plan".
He recounted a Shanghainese client who likened second citizenship to having a "fast junk in the harbour, fitted with gold bars". After generations of turmoil, the bolthole mentality runs deep among China's rich – by one estimate, 47 per cent of rich mainlanders plan to immigrate within five years .
But it's not just China's millionaires. Americans have represented a big slice of business for Lesperance's Toronto-based practice, as they look for alternatives to a lifetime of tax obligations to the US, which are determined by nationality and not residency.
Which brings us to the case of the Canadian with eight citizenships.
Lesperance said his client didn't start out Canadian; he was an American-born businessman. But at the end of his citizenship spree, he had collected a portfolio of passports via economic citizenship and residency that spanned both sides of the Atlantic, from Belize to Britain. Along the way he became a Canadian, too, and renounced his US citizenship.
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"It sounds flaky, but he was intrigued by this concept [of economic citizenship]…He had the money. He didn't need another car, so this is what he spends his money on. It was wonderful to be his lawyer," said Lesperance, a former Canadian border officer who has worked as an immigration lawyer for more than 25 years.