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EP calls for a revoke of golden passports

passport The EU is already pushing through legal proceedings to shut down existing golden passport schemes in Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria

By George Pirishis

The EU sanctions against Russia do not exclude the “golden passport” and “golden visa” programmes since a legislative initiative report of the European Parliament calls on the European Commission to present a proposal by the end of the mandate to ban the former and regulate the latter. In addition, the European Parliament calls for all gold passports issued by Member States to be revoked and common rules to be established to check those applying for European passports. The final text was adopted by 595 votes in favour, 12 against and 74 abstentions.

According to the final text of the report, Citizenship by Investment (CBI) schemes, under which third country nationals can acquire citizenship rights for a financial contribution, undermine the very essence of EU citizenship. References to Cyprus are not lost in the wording of the text, as the EU Parliament describes these programmes (in Malta, Bulgaria and Cyprus) as ‘opportunistic behaviour’, as these Member States are selling something that was never intended to be a commodity. It is recalled that Cyprus has stopped its passport-for-investment programme two years ago.

Noting that Residence by Investment (RBI) visa schemes pose less serious risks, the EU Parliament called for rules to be adopted at EU level to tackle money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. In particular, the European Parliament calls for, inter alia: that applicants should be subjected to rigorous background checks (including on their relatives, but also on the origin of their funds), that there should be a mandatory cross-checking of their data in the databases maintained by the EU and that any screening procedures carried out in third countries should be taken into account an obligation for each Member State to notify any applications it is processing, including through a ‘notification and consultation’ system allowing other Member States to raise objections introducing requirements regarding the minimum period of effective residence in the country (for applicants) and active participation, quality, added value and contribution to the economy (for their investments).

Parliament also called for a special levy to be introduced for the European budget, representing a significant percentage of the investments made in the Member States. This levy would be imposed on “golden passports” until they are definitively abolished and on “golden visas” indefinitely.

Parliament also asked the European Commission to ensure that third countries whose citizens enter the EU without a visa follow the same example. Pointing out that intermediaries do not operate transparently and are not accountable to anyone, the European Parliament calls for a ban on their participation in “citizenship by investment” programmes. It also calls for a “strict and binding regulation” on their role in “residency by investment” programmes, which should provide for sanctions in case of breach of the rules.

It is worth noting that yesterday Britain announced that it froze the assets of seven Russian businessmen, which include Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska and Dmitry Lebedev after these persons were included in the list of British sanctions.

“There can be no safe havens for those who supported Putin’s vicious attack on Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea football club, Deripaska has shares in En+ Group, Shechin is the CEO of Rosneft and Lebedev is chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya.

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