EU lawmakers to push for ban on new ‘golden passports’, visas for Russians


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament is about to approve on Wednesday a report urging the EU to ban golden passport schemes by 2025 and instantly cease the issuance of visas and passports to wealthy Russians in alternate for investments.

The transfer follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has triggered international sanctions of unprecedented severity towards Moscow, with targets together with numerous highly effective and rich Russians seen as shut to President Vladimir Putin.

The golden passport business, which between 2011 and 2019 generated investments in EU nations of over 20 billion euros ($21.8 billion), is at the moment nearly totally unregulated within the EU, regardless of many nations having run these schemes for years.

EU states resembling Malta and Cyprus have made enormous earnings with their schemes and the European Commission’s vice chairman overseeing monetary coverage, Valdis Dombrovskis, arrange a profitable residence funding programme in Latvia when he was prime minister there originally of the final decade.

EU lawmakers say of their report that ending such schemes might have a big financial affect in some nations. They are due to this fact proposing the gradual phaseout of golden passport schemes and tight guidelines for residence preparations, together with far more rigorous checks on candidates.

Companies creating and selling these programmes, resembling Henley & Partners, would face strict necessities. Under the proposal, which is backed by a majority of legislators, revenues generated by these schemes can be taxed to fund the EU finances.

In an modification to the unique proposal prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the parliament urges an instantaneous halt to gross sales of visa and residence permits to Russians, among the many largest beneficiaries of those schemes.

Once permitted, the report will go to the European Commission, which has the ability to suggest laws.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders instructed lawmakers that the EU govt disagreed with the necessity for new guidelines on gross sales of citizenship as a result of it was already pushing by way of authorized proceedings to shut down current golden passport schemes in Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

But the Commission has mentioned it should assess the necessity for new legal guidelines to tighten golden visa schemes, and likewise situation shortly a non-binding advice on EU member states’ issuance of golden passports and residence permits to Russians.

Last month, Britain scrapped golden visas for rich buyers amid considerations concerning the influx of illicit Russian cash at a time when Russia was massing forces alongside the border with Ukraine, every week earlier than launching its invasion.

($1 = 0.9177 euros)

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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