How much do you think your passport is worth?
If your answer is “it’s priceless”, consider this: over 20 countries or territories worldwide are currently selling residence and citizenship rights under so-called Golden Visa programmes. Thirteen of them are in Europe and price tags vary from country to country, costing anywhere from US$310,000 to US$12 million.
Don’t get us wrong, we are not against countries exchanging residence or citizenship rights for investment. But back in 2014, when these programmes were becoming popular, we said we were worried such schemes may risk helping the corrupt escape justice.
On Monday, our partners at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) published new investigations into European Golden Visas that have confirmed our fears.
These investigations reveal that the Golden Visa market operates like a shop where an array of options varied by price are presented. Access to the EU is one of their main selling points.
The shady thing about this European Golden Visa shop is that transactions are often conducted in secret and without proper due diligence. This means that Golden Visa programmes can be open to abuse by all sorts of illicit activity from money laundering to government kick-back schemes.
We have highlighted some of the key findings from these revelations and asked the European Commission to take heed of this new evidence and finally adopt guidelines to regulate European Golden Visa programmes.
Join us in reminding governments as well as European institutions of their responsibility to protect their people from the corrupt.
Credit to: Transparency International