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EU calls for harsh measures against "golden passports" for major investors



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Media Signature The European Commission says that citizenship for sale carries security risks. so-called "golden passports" – through investments.

The Commission is planning closer monitoring of these schemes and the "golden visas" that provide residence for large investments. They say they can be abused for tax evasion and money laundering.

EU citizenship allows for individual freedom of movement, easy access to the single market and other rights in most countries of the Union.

Twenty EU countries have such programs.

Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria issue passports to third-country nationals who make sufficient investments in their countries. Rich foreigners can buy passports there for between EUR 1

million (GBP 870,000, USD 1,1 million) and EUR 2 million

. They and 17 other EU Member States, including the UK, also grant investors residence rights. This right puts a person on the path to citizenship.

In a new report, the commission states that there is not enough information about how the systems work. It has a dedicated team to oversee the actions and promote the exchange of information.

& # 39; Big business & # 39;

The Global Witness anti-corruption campaign group said the EU had raised the alarm but offered no solutions, the Adam of the BBC Flame Reports from Brussels.

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AFP

Caption

Cyprus has made great efforts to attract Russian investors

In a report issued last October, another anti-corruption group, Transparency International, said that Spain, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal and the United Kingdom had granted investors and their families the most golden visas in Greece, Cyprus and Malta.

"Such programs are big business and around 25 billion euros in foreign direct investment have flowed into the EU through these programs over the last decade," said EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova. People who are granted EU citizenship, must have "a genuine connection with the Member State concerned".

"We want more transparency in terms of granting citizenship and more cooperation between Member States, there should be no weak link in the EU where people could look for the most lenient system."

The Commission says there are several issues:

  • Security: checks on applicants are not sufficiently robust and the EU's own central information systems, such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), are not used systematically enough
  • Money Laundering: Additional controls – called "due diligence" – are needed to ensure that EU anti-money laundering rules are not circumvented
  • Tax Evasion: Monitoring and reporting are required to ensure that individuals do not use these schemes to tax receive benefits
  • Transparency and information: There is a lack of clear information on the implementation of the schemes, including the number of applications received, granted or rejected and the origin of the applicants. EU states do not inform themselves about applicants

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