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Greece & Portugal Golden Visa Programs Raise Security Concerns in EU

Although the Golden Visa programs in Greece and Portugal are very popular with wealthy international investors, they have been considered to have systemic problems with their schemes, while the programs are used for nefarious purposes due to the lack of background checks.

These conclusions were reached by a recent report published by the Associates Times, reports.

Authorities in the two regions claim that applications are filtered through INTERPOL and Europol database checks. However, the Golden Visa Program, which is also operated in other European countries, besides Greece and Portugal, is often considered a gateway to money laundering, corruption and other illegal affairs.

Although they have been accused of such illegal acts, the authorities in both the aforementioned countries have not made sufficient efforts to tighten the requirements and controls for applicants who want to obtain a golden visa, which allows them to access all the countries of the Schengen area.

EU Parliament delegates have constantly urged EU governments to put an end to golden visa programmes, claiming that such schemes should be removed from Europe.

Despite accusations of being an open door to various illegal affairs, golden visa programs run in European countries have also suffered severe damage due to the coronavirus.

In 2020, only 368 golden visas were issued to foreigners since the beginning of the year, based on data provided by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time.

According to the ministry’s statement published at the time, the decrease in the number of golden visas issued was mainly caused by the Corona virus and its new strains that affected all European countries.

As for Portugal’s Golden Visa program, it was previously reported that money brought into the country through such a program recorded a 43 percent decrease during July 2020, year on year, in addition to a 37 percent decrease compared to June 2020 figures. These conclusions were reached by statistics previously provided by Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF).

The same revealed that €56,005,967.76 was collected through investment, as a result of the granting of the Residence Permit for Investment (ARI) in July, which is a 42.9 percent decrease compared to the same period one year ago.

Previously, an investigative report by Al Jazeera, known as the “Cyprus Papers”, found that more than 1,000 foreigners, along with their family members, purchased citizenship in Cyprus for two years, from 2017 to 2019, through the Citizenship by Investment Program.

Shortly after the report was published, the government of Cyprus announced that it would put an end to the highly criticized golden visa regime. Cyprus has announced that such a scheme will end on November 30, 2020.

The European Union also announced that it could file a lawsuit against the golden visa program run by the Cypriot authorities after the latter was accused of involvement in corruption, criminal and money laundering cases.

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