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“Golden passports” for the oligarchs: the EU Parliament calls for effective measures against money laundering – Politics

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Golden passports and golden visas: This is a practice that has been widespread in the EU so far, but it also means that Russian oligarchs are free to travel throughout the EU. The EU Parliament has now asked Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to close this loophole for dubious third-country nationals in the EU.

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Earlier this year, Bulgaria apparently issued “golden passports” to Russian bankers. As the online research portal Bird.bg reported at the time, Dmitry Kushaev, director of Credit Suisse’s Moscow office, was one of the beneficiaries.

The EU countries that until recently issued “golden passports” to citizens of dubious third countries are Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. After the Russian invasion, the Maltese government announced that it would no longer grant citizenship to Russians and Belarusians. The governments of Cyprus and Bulgaria had previously considered a general end to the practice.

In addition to the lucrative practice of granting citizenship, there is also the “golden visa”, with which EU states also benefit from payments from financially strong third-country nationals.

In addition to Malta, Bulgaria and Cyprus, it affects nine other countries: Estonia, Latvia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. During his time as Latvian Prime Minister, the current Vice President of the EU Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, made sure that non-EU citizens could settle in his country for large sums of money.

More than 20,000 million euros in the coffers of the EU countries

According to the EU Commission, around 130,000 people in the EU received “golden passports” or visas between 2011 and 2019. The beneficiaries made investments of around €21.8 billion for this. Following the European Parliament’s decision on Wednesday night, there are calls to end the practice of “golden passports” altogether and introduce uniform rules for visas in the future. This is to combat money laundering and corruption.

The EU Commissioner for the Interior, Ylva Johansson, had already announced in the plenary debate of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg last Monday that the Brussels authorities would soon make a recommendation to the member states for the issuance of “golden passports” and visas.

On the other hand, with a large majority, Parliament called on the Commission to enact a legislative proposal that effectively curbs corruption and money laundering. “We hope that Ursula von der Leyen will not only take note of this, but that she will also implement it,” says SPD MEP Birgit Sippel, referring to the EU Parliament initiative.

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