CorruptionNewsVisas and Borders

Europe concerned passport sales to oligarchs are fuelling money laundering

By Kevin Holland,

The European Commission has just issued a report with damning conclusions for the Europe-wide practice of selling passports to the super wealthy in return for some level of investment.

A draft copy reads:

“Investor citizenship and residence schemes create a range of risks for member states and for the union as a whole: in particular, risks to security, including the possibility of infiltration of non-EU organised crime groups, as well as risks of money-laundering, corruption and tax evasion”.

In the last ten years alone EU states are believed to have made around $28bn from the schemes.

The Commission intends to provide guidance to states on how to avoid criminal elements misusing the scheme. There are particular concerns over the practice in Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria.

This is not to say the problem is restricted to these nations; around 20 EU states offer similar versions of the scheme, including Spain and the UK. Typically, a large investment must be made and in return residency of some form is granted.

The ability to purchase real estate is a major draw for money launderers. London, in particular, is a hotspot for laundering via property sales.

While the member states get varying degrees of investment, the question must surely be asked as to whether these relatively small sums justify providing such a warm environment for organised crime and fugitives.

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