EU warns of crime risks from govts’ passports sales

Source:AFP Published: 2019/1/23 21:58:42

The European Commission warned on Wednesday that programs of some EU states to sell passports and visas to wealthy foreigners could help organized crime groups infiltrate the bloc and raise the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.

The warning is contained in the first report the EU executive has produced over the multi-billion dollar industry of so-called "investment migration," which allows rich individuals to buy citizenship or residence in countries that put them on sale.

Although legal, these schemes are sometimes run in opaque ways without sufficient checks on those who acquire passports and visas, the Commission said. It also warned of risks for the bloc as passports and residence permits issued by one country of the 28-nation union give unhindered access to most other member states.

This causes "possible security risks such as money laundering, terrorist financing, corruption and infiltration of organized crime," the EU Commission said in the report.

In the EU, Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are the only countries who sell "golden passports" in return for investments ranging between around 1 million and 2 million euros ($2.2 million).

Twenty EU states, including those three, sell residence permits, or "golden visas," to foreigners willing to invest in their new host countries, with a range of nearly 15,000 euros in Croatia and over 5 million euros in Luxembourg and Slovakia.

Posted in: EUROPE

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