11 Oct 2018
The European Commission is reportedly set to publish guidance for member states on how to manage ‘golden visas’ – resident permits that can be purchased by wealthy foreigners – amid growing concerns that they are being used by rich criminals to live and move around Europe easily, and that they also pose a high risk of money laundering.
The EC guidance is expected to include ‘necessary background checks’ for applicants across the bloc, as opposed to different requirements laid out by national laws.
News of the EC’s plans comes after anti-corruption campaigners Global Witness and Transparency International published a new study outlining the costs of the visas and the associated risks to financial crime.
“We discovered that risky individuals are buying access to the EU, and that these schemes are risking the corruption of the state itself as profit-hungry governments disregard the dangers and enter into a race to the bottom to attract hefty investments,” said Global Witness.
“Finding safe haven through these schemes is simpler than you might think if you have a lot of money to spare. Despite the risks posed by golden visa schemes, several of the governments selling residency and citizenship do not seem to question where applicants’ money comes from.”
MEP Sven Giegold has called for the schemes to be scrapped.
“These programs are a gateway to criminal money. The EU attracts criminals and corrupt people from all over the world. National programs without European minimum standards are a security risk for Europe. We need to intensify the fight against money laundering. The EU Commission must set minimum standards for these programs and ensure that they provide passports and visas to investors.”
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