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“Golden passports” more risky than EU admitted

Article by Claude Shannon, photo by Tatu Kosonen and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The EU may have toned down its recent report and action plan on the infamous ‘golden passports’ schemes being misused around Europe, according to a new investigation.

The EU’s recent report, of January 23, left out a number of points from previous drafts that suggest the report was toned down under political pressure, according to OCCRP.

In October 2018 a draft had proposed “member states should not accept investor scheme applications from persons listed on UN and EU sanctions lists.” The fact this was pulled from the final version is alarming, as it suggests the EU is reluctant to prohibit those on sanctions lists.

The draft also looked to clamp down on private firms involved in the process where there may be “conflicts of interests” – the schemes tend to be highly vulnerable to abuse. Yet this was also removed from the final report, most likely due to commercial lobbying from those involved. Again, this does not reflect well on the EU.

While only Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta sell citizenship, many EU states sell residency. In doing so they have attracted many tycoons and oligarchs, many from former Soviet states, and some with connections to various money laundering schemes or other financial impropriety.

Given the recent Danske scandal, which is still unfolding, as well as the EU’s broader corruption issues, particularly in its eastern states, it is highly surprising that the EU would water down its proposals on the ‘golden visa’ schemes.

Instead, the EU should be forging coherent and effective measures to reduce financial crime and corruption, and bring in unified measures across the bloc where possible. Europe cannot afford to be seen as a soft touch for organized crime and financial fugitives.

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