Bulgaria’s golden visa program may be brought to an end after it has often been in the spotlight for several illegal affairs, including money laundering and corruption.
The move was announced by the government, which plans to introduce the bill to Parliament, TheSchengen.com reports.
The Ministry of Justice announced that the golden visa scheme did not lead to real investment in the Balkan country. Such an advertisement has been reported by EURACTIV.
In this regard, the Cabinet of Bulgarian Prime Minister Kirill Petkov said that they plan to cancel such a scheme due to “the absence of real investments in the economy, which is likely to lead to job creation.”
However, this bill supported by many politicians in Bulgaria has not yet been approved by the country’s government.
Foreigners who invest a minimum of 1 million leva (500,000 euros) can obtain permanent residence in Bulgaria.
The European Commission has consistently called on European countries running such schemes to end them amid growing concerns about security, money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.
In this regard, Brussels in June last year sent a letter to the Bulgarian authorities urging them to end the citizenship-by-investment programme.
Based on the report published by Euractiv, a total of 96 foreigners hold Bulgarian gold passports, many of them Russian, followed by citizens of Middle Eastern countries.
Although the Citizenship by Investment Program attracts a large number of foreigners, it is still involved in many illegal affairs.
Previously, the Greece and Portugal golden visa programs were seen as having systemic problems while being used for nefarious purposes due to the lack of background checks. These conclusions were reached by a report by the Associated Press.
Besides, the Cyprus government has also announced that it will end the golden visa program on November 1 last year. This decision came after the investigative report published by Al-Jazeera, known as the “Cyprus Papers”.
The same claimed that more than 1,000 foreigners bought citizenship in Cyprus from 2017 to 2019.
The EU Commission has previously indicted Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta for their golden visa programmes.
In addition, a report published by Global Witness showed that many EU countries have not established proper useful property registries, which are intended to curb money laundering and other illegal matters.
The report showed that these countries have “weaknesses” in their citizenship through investment programs, making it easier for foreigners involved in corruption to launder and hide their money in countries within the European Union.