• Friday, Jul 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:13 am

EU pushes for crackdown on 'golden visas'

  • Published at 09:14 pm January 23rd, 2019
European Union flags
A European Union flags flutters outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium Reuters

Non-government organisations have already flagged countries such as Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria

The European Union will urge member states Wednesday to crack down on schemes to grant "golden visas" to foreign investors, warning they bring corruption and money laundering in their wake.

Officials told AFP the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, will publish its first report urging members to curb the practice of giving wealthy foreigners - often Chinese, Russians and Americans - residency or citizenship in return for investment.

"What the reports finds is that these schemes pose a number of risks, in terms of security, money laundering or tax evasion," an EU official told AFP.

If member states fail to tighten their rules and become "more transparent the Commission is clear, we will take action if necessary," the official added.

Wealthy candidates for residency or citizenship do not face sufficient security and background checks to prevent them from posing a security risk or laundering money, according to the report.

Non-government organisations have already flagged countries such as Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria for offering wealthy foreigners citizenship that allows them to move freely in most of the 28-nation bloc. Many other countries grant residence permits to foreign investors.

In October last year, Berlin-based Transparency International and London-based Global Witness called EU citizenship and residency as "just like a luxury good" which "can be bought."

"By their very nature, golden visa schemes are an attractive prospect for the criminal and the corrupt," they wrote in the report entitled "European Getaway: Inside the Murky World of Golden Visas."

Several EU members have used such schemes to give passports to around 6,000 people and residency rights to around 100,000 people in the past decade, securing about 25 billion euro's of foreign direct investment in return, the report said.

Four EU members - Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta - "sell" passports to wealthy investors while 12 more offer them residency rights.

Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and Britain are the countries that have received the most investment in return for visas, the report alleged.

Spain received 976 million euro's annually compared to 498 million euro's in Britain.

But, while the sums being waved about by investors should make governments vigilant about corruption, "that doesn't appear to be the case," the activists reported.

50
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail