London ballroom hosts showcase event for ‘golden passports’
18 Nov 2019

Three prime ministers took to a stage in the ballroom of a five-star London hotel this week offering the world’s wealthiest people “golden passports” and citizenship of their countries in return for hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment or flat “contributions”.

Allen Chastanet, the prime minister of the Caribbean island of St Lucia, told about 300 members of the super-rich elite and their advisers gathered at the Rosewood hotel for “global citizenship conference” that his country’s economic mission was “going after high net-worth individuals and giving them a comfortable place to live”.

He promised that in return for a $100,000 (£78,000) “contribution to the national economic fund” applicants would be granted St Lucian citizenship within three months. With it comes a so-called “golden passport” giving visa-free travel to 145 countries, including the UK, the European Union’s Schengen Area, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Also selling citizenships at the conference were the prime ministers of Albania and Montenegro, a Maltese minister, an ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, and representatives from Cyprus.

Věra Jourová, the incoming European commission vice-president, said: “The citizenship schemes raise a number of concerns. The granting of citizenship poses a serious security risk because it gives beneficiaries all the rights of EU citizens and allows them to move freely throughout the union. The EU must not become a safe haven for criminals, corruption and dirty money.

“While we cannot ban these schemes on the EU level due to lack of competence, we want more transparency on how nationality is granted and more co-operation between member states. There should be no weak link in the EU, where people could shop around for the most lenient scheme.”

By Rupert Neate, The Guardian, 16 November 2019

Read more at The Guardian

Photo (cropped): Mbusin [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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