Amusing, no?

Billionaire Russian oligarchs and Ukrainian elites accused of corruption are among hundreds of people who have acquired EU passports under controversial “golden visa” schemes, the Guardian has learnt.

The government of Cyprus has raised more than €4bn since 2013 by providing citizenship to the super rich, granting them the right to live and work throughout Europe in exchange for cash investment. More than 400 passports are understood to have been issued through this scheme last year alone.

Prior to 2013, Cypriot citizenship was granted on a discretionary basis by ministers, in a less formal version of the current arrangement.

A leaked list of the names of hundreds of those who have benefited from these schemes, seen by the Guardian, includes prominent businesspeople and individuals with considerable political influence.

The ‘golden visa’ deal: ‘We have in effect been selling off British citizenship to the rich’
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The leak marks the first time a list of the super rich granted Cypriot citizenship has been revealed. A former member of Russia’s parliament, the founders of Ukraine’s largest commercial bank and a gambling billionaire are among the new names.

The list sheds light on the little-known but highly profitable industry and raises questions about the security checks carried out on applicants by Cyprus.

To not grant asylum and then citizenship to a 25 year old who rocks up claiming to be 15 is scandalous. To charge for it is scandalous.

11 thoughts on “Amusing, no?”

  1. It is hardly a secretive or ‘little known’ thing…

    There are signs all along the motorway from every estate agent on the island announcing it (in Chinese and Russian although there is a booming Israeli market too)…

  2. This is a mechanism whereby relatively freer and more stable western democracies get to enjoy the benefit of 3rd world growth. All those Chinese and Russian billionaires with UK or USA etc passports have effectively transferred wealth from China and Russia to the UK and USA. Bring ’em on! It’s a bargain.

  3. As someone who has been intimately involved in this area for over 25 years, I can tell you that even the “poor” security screening that was done years ago (vastly improved now) was better than the current level of individual normal naturalization citizenship applications being done in the UK and other EU countries.

    The question for politicians in democracies to answer is whether they believe that economic residence or citizenship is an economic development tool they wish to use?

    If you want to have this type of discussion it is worth understanding a few basic elements of Citizenship law. Although each country determines their own citizenship laws, citizenship is normally granted on the basis one or more of the following principles:

    Jus sanguinis: Citizenship is granted by having one or both parents who are citizens of the state.

    Jus soli: Commonly referred to as birthright citizenship, this is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship

    Naturalization: This is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality in a country. It may be done by a statute, without any effort on the part of the individual, or it may involve an application and approval by legal authorities. The typical naturalization situation is where an individual is granted residence and then completes naturalization requirements such as extended physical presence, tax payment, language, knowledge of local language, laws, history and customs. It can also include Citizenship by Investment or Citizenship by Merit (e.g. Zola Budd ).

    So the real question is whether one method of acquiring citizenship has greater or less merit than the other. If the concern is the granting of citizenship to criminals or persons who will “milk the system”, it is worth noting that the first two methods of citizenship do not screen for these issues. Successful naturalization citizenship applicants will have gone through extensive screening and selection at least once if not twice.

    If the concern is whether the new citizen is contributing to the country, again that is not a consideration under the first two basis but is under naturalization. In short, if avoiding criminality and communal contribution are the most important factors, then from a purely egalitarian viewpoint, only naturalization based citizenship deals with these concerns. As a result, if democratically elected officials believe that Citizenship by Investment is an economically beneficial program to institute in their country, there is really no logical ethical reason why they should not do so.

    However, as I acknowledged previously, logic and clear ethical thinking seem to be strangely absent from the debate surrounding citizenship and even residence.

  4. I can’t remember how much it cost my then-wife to get UK Citizenship in the 1990s but it was well in the thousands. What is that other than purchasing citizenship?

    (And in her case, buying back what had been stolen from her 15 years before)

  5. I’d rather we sold citizenship/passports to oligarchs rather than benefit leeches who then decide as a reward for our generosity to rape our children and kill us. No good deed goes unpunished.

  6. moqifen: I’m tending towards agreeing with you, the problem I have is the system today of the UK sponser having to have an income over £18k to let somebody in. If that had been in place in the 1990s my wife would never have been allowed in. I’ve *never* had an annual income over £18k in today’s money in my entire working life. My ex, though, was on about that in today’s money before she came to the UK and is on plenty more than that now.

    After the standard – as it was then – seven years’ residence with no recourse to public funds. So, she got citizenship not only after us having to be able to support ourselves, but being able to support ourselves WITHOUT BENEFITS for SEVEN YEARS.

  7. @jgh – went through the same expensive rigmarole with my now ex wife. Makes me angry when i hear people say – give illegal immigrants citizenship- penalising those who do it legally. same goes for refugees” fleeing in fear of their lives” who go back home on holiday. something has gone wrong with our immigration policies.

  8. @jgh – this came up in the second to last Brexit negotiations. The EU negotiators want their citizens to have rights that British citizens do not have. E.g. a Polish national earning less than the threshold with UK residency before the A50 date marries a Thai, then she ( for it usually is a she ) can come to the UK to settle. Davis said at the time that this issue was unresolved.
    A market system for visas stamped NRTPF has got to be simpler. Could even make them refundable after x years of no criminal record ( including council tax summons and speeding etc )

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