Citizenship schemes should be ‘phased out as soon as possible’

Hard not to agree with this recommendation of  the European Parliament:

Schemes which offer citizenship or residency by investment should be phased out as soon as possible, a European Parliament special committee has said.

In a draft report released on Tuesday, the Special Committee on Financial Crimes and Tax Evasion expressed concerns about Malta’s Individual Investor Programme, saying it could “potentially pose” high risks.

Their concerns came following an analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which found Malta could potentially offer a back-door to money-launderers and tax evaders.

Read: Malta at ‘high’ risk of being used for money laundering

Following continued revelations over the past year, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, the European Parliament decided to set up a special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

After many months of expert hearings, studies and fact-finding missions, the committee presented its findings on Wednesday.

The report, put forward by Czech MEP Luděk Niedermayer and Danish MEP Jeppe Kofod, calls for an urgent reform of outdated and international tax rules.

“Anti-money laundering provisions in Europe are a loose patchwork blanket of EU and national rules. The blanket clearly doesn’t cover all it needs to, and the patches don’t quite line up, leaving loopholes,” Mr Kofod said.

In a statement, the EPP also came out strongly against schemes offering citizenship or residences for investment.

These schemes were being abused and posed a security threat to the rest of the EU, MEP Dariusz Rosati, EPP group spokesman in the committee said.

In his reaction, PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said concerns related to proper lack of due diligence meant countries were facing “totally unnecessary security risks”.

Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech

“This is why we shall keep on insisting on the full and clear disclosure of the names of all persons acquiring citizenship and not try to hide those names from public attention and scrutiny,” he said.

The draft report will be discussed on November 27.

And in other citizenship-by-investment news, this editorial in the Jordan Times regarding recent Jordanian proposals:
The government decided on Sunday to have another look at the regulations governing granting of the Jordanian nationality to foreigners by raising the financial stakes for their eligibility.

Depositing $1.5 million with the Central Bank of Jordan, purchasing no less than $1.5 million worth of Jordanian treasury bonds or even buying stakes in Jordanian companies worth $1.5 million are all well and good revisions, but making the price of citizenship higher does not go far enough. The Jordanian nationality has no price and cannot be measured in US dollars or Jordanian dinars. There must be something much more important and valuable for obtaining the Jordanian nationality.

One would have thought, therefore, that the government would revisit other factors for citizenship qualification that go beyond money. What about having potential citizen take a test, like all countries do when they grant citizenship to foreigners, with a view to determining the extent of their knowledge of the history of the country and its goals and aspirations.

Potential citizens must be also sensitive to the culture of the country, and its regional and international challenges. Above all, there is a need to gauge the extent of their solemn loyalty to the country.

None of these non-material testing grounds appear to figure highly in the process leading to granting citizenship to foreign applicants. And come to think of it, why not invite Parliament to have a look also at the citizenship process for foreign applicants. The people’s representatives need to have voice in this important policy.

Being a Jordanian is a very serious matter and taking it should not be for serving applicants’ immediate needs. Otherwise, the Jordanian nationality would become a citizenship of convenience.

Jordanians at large would want to make sure that no one is contemplating taking Jordan for a ride, to serve their own immediate and perhaps temporary goals. This whole process of granting citizenship to investors requires another look, a look that is deeper and multidimensional.

Source: Citizenship is not a commodity

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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