Portugal Golden Visa investment scheme facing corruption accusations

Portugal Golden Visa investment scheme facing corruption accusations

Portugal Golden Visa investment scheme facing corruption accusations

The popular Portuguese Goldan Visa scheme aimed at wealthy investors needing second passports and citizenship is under attack for corruption.

European MP Ana Gomes led a surprise attack on the scheme earlier this week, accusing it of prostituting European citizenship and being open to organised crime and money-laundering. Gomes, also the Vice-President of the European Commission on Financial Crime, stated the scheme was ‘perverse’ in that it promotes secrecy and is a threat to the Schengen Zone’s safety. Gomes is not against granting visas at no cost to individuals aiming at benefiting Portuguese society, but is determined to stop golden visas being sold in a manner which favours corruption and financial crimes.

The MEP’s antipathy towards the scheme is rooted in her unsuccessful attempt due to Portugal’s strict privacy laws to get a full list of Golden Visa investors. Her given reason for needing the list was to be able to conduct background checks, but her request was denied. She told Portuguese media she hadn’t wanted investors’ bank account details, home addresses or any other private details, just their names, but the denial has led her to believe some may have criminal records in their countries of origin.

Her concern is shared by the Transparency and Integrity organisation, which also applied with a similar request to the SEF immigration office, the State Secretary for Fiscal Affairs and the Economy Ministry. The result of the enquiry was that the Economy Ministry sent on the request to the Ministry for Home Affairs, whilst SEF have not as yet replied and the Fiscal Affairs office said they had no files on the details. As a result, the organisation immediately called for a stop to the programme, arguing that doing so would avoid the possible facilitation of money laundering by international organised crime.

Chinese nationals have been the most enthusiastic contributors to the Golden Visa scheme, which requires an investment in real estate of at least 500,000 euros. Gomes pointed out that China’s limit on money transferred out of the country is 50,000 euros per year, meaning the system has to be either criminal or corrupt. Following on from the discussion, leftist members also called for an end to the non-habitual residence programme favoured by expat pensioners.

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