US billionaires’ demand for ‘golden passport’ schemes rockets by 337% in three years

Yet more demand by Americans, with interesting reasons stated by consultants (suggesting a mix of right and left leaning ultra wealthy):

Soaring numbers of wealthy Americans are buying ‘golden passports’ that grant them citizenship to New Zealand, Portugal and other ‘safe’ countries over fears of impending civil war in their home country.

Henley & Partners, a firm that helps the wealthy shop around for citizenship across the globe, said sales to American nationals worth between $50 million and $20 billion have shot up more than 337 percent since 2019, Business Insider reported.

Countries involved – including Portugal, Malta, New Zealand and Austria offer citizenship or visas that lead to citizenship in return for heavy investment in the host national, and a visit of just a few days there each year.

Latitude Residency & Citizenship and Dasein Advisors, two other citizenship firms, said they too have seen more inquiries from American clients over the past three years than in the previous 20 combined.

‘We’ve all lived through the past two and a half years,’ Reaz Jafri told Insider, referencing the pandemic and the civil unrest that followed.

‘It all just reminded us how vulnerable and frail we are, and people who have means are accepting that it will happen again — and they don’t want to be caught off guard.’

Other issues said to have seen the demand for foreign passports spike include the likely end of Roe V Wade, which legalized abortion across the US, Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill – better known as the Don’t Say Gay Bill, as well as fears for the future of America’s democracy following the Black Lives Matter and January 6 riots.

Dominic Volek, head of private clients at Henley & Partners, said clients were worried over the ‘four Cs: COVID-19, climate change, cryptocurrency and conflict.’

Volek told Insider his firm saw an uptick in clients during the Trump administration, and once the pandemic hit, wealthy Americans were hit by the realities of their country’s COVID restrictions.

‘In the very strict lockdowns there was a point where if you only had an American passport, you could not enter Europe,’ Volek said. ‘I think that made a lot of particularly ultra-high net worth individuals realize that they’re potentially a little bit more fragile than they thought.’

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was one of the rich elites seeking a ‘golden passport’ in 2020 as he applied for European citizenship in 2020 through Cyprus’s now defunct program.

Along with fears of another pandemic, worsening storms fueled by climate change and worries over an economic collapse, the billionaires are also afraid of civil unrest from a divided nation that only seems to be getting worse everyday.

In the past three years, America saw nationwide protests over pandemic restrictions, the Black Lives Matter movement, laws restricting abortion which have gained new steam as the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe V. Wade, voting rights and Critical Race Theory in schools.

The country also received a shock on January 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a deadly riot to attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

In 2022, Americans continue to be divided over these issues as well as Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and nationwide police reform efforts, where liberal cities that embraced the new laws are experiencing surges in violent crime.

Jafri said the issues plaguing America have caused billionaires to share a single concern, a fear about the future of American society.

Among the most popular countries billionaires are seeking citizenship for is Portugal, which offers a five-year residency permit that allows visa-free travel to 26 countries in the European Union.

Portugal’s program requires a minimum investment of $200,000 in real estate and an average stay of just seven days a year in the country. After the permit expires, individuals can apply for full-time citizenship, which takes an additional three years.

New Zealand, another popular country for ‘golden passports,’ grants permanent residency status to those investing in residential or commercial property, as well as high growth investments and government bonds.

The country’s Investor 1 visa asks for about $6.5 million in investments over three years and requires applicants to stay in the country for 88 days over that timespan.

The Investor 2 visa asks for about $2 million in investments over four years and requires applicants to be 66 or older and to stay in the country for 438 days over four years.

New Zealand golden passport holders include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who’s worth an estimated $5 billion.

Malta offers European citizenship to those who contribute more than $740,000 to the national development fund, more than $860,000 into real estate investment, more than $12,000 to charity, and provide proof of at least 36 months of residency in the country.

The nation also offers an expedited process that only calls for proof of 12 months of residency so long as the applicant contributes more than $925,000 to the national development fund.

Austria provides ‘golden passports’ through investment directly, asking foreign applications to invest more than $12.3 million into a business or make a $3.7 million contribution to the government development fund.

Alternatively, applicants can make a nearly $50,000 contribution to the government fund for residency approval and then apply for full citizenship after 10 years.

Source: US billionaires’ demand for ‘golden passport’ schemes rockets by 337% in three years

Antigua and Barbuda maintaining defense of Citizenship by Investment program

Unlikely to be successful:

Antigua and Barbuda has stepped up its efforts to stave off efforts by the European Union (EU) to derail the controversial Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI), with Prime Minister Gaston Browne indicating that he has sent a letter to the EU on the issue.

“I have taken the opportunity to write to them, to let them know the impact that they are about to inflict on our CBI programs and the impact on our economies,” said Browne.  Last week Browne called on member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to provide a united front on the issue.

He said the letter will provide evidence that Antigua and Barbuda probably has the most robust due diligence process before citizenship can be granted.

“Citizens from these countries who are trying to access citizenship under the program would have to get clearance from Interpol, a review of their financial background, and a police report from their country of residence,” Browne added.

Under the CBI, foreign investors are afforded citizenship of a country in return for making a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the particular country. Several Caribbean countries have instituted CBI programs.

The United States has moved to decline visas to holders of passports obtained by the CBI, and the European Union has passed a law giving countries three years to phase out the program or face visa requirements for all its passport holders.

The EU Parliament has called for an EU “levy of a meaningful percentage on the investments made – until ‘golden passports’ are phased out, and indefinitely for ‘golden visas’” within the block.

According to its website, “It also asks the Commission to put pressure on countries that benefit from visa-free travel to the EU to follow suit,”

The resolution passed by the parliament with 595 votes to 12, and 74 abstentions, says golden passports should be phased out fully.

Foreign Affairs Minister, E.P Chet Greene has promised that St. John’s will be robust in its defense of the CBI telling reporters while a final decision has not been made as yet by Europe, scraping the CBI will not be an option.

“We won’t preempt losing this fight, we will fight it to the end. We understand the importance of this program to us, we are operating a program that is really above and beyond reproach. Our books can be pulled at any time and our reports are tabled in Parliament,” Greene said.

“We won’t be quick to disband these programs, but rather we will continue to show the virtue, value, and management of these programs, and hope that common sense will prevail,” he added.

Prime Minister Browne said the CBI does not represent any risks to Europe, adding “as far as we are concerned, we are now collateral damage.”

Browne said about 10 per cent of the country’s revenue comes from the CBI while in other countries, their economies are almost absolutely reliant on their own CBI.

“If they are successful in undermining our CBI, it will create problems for the OECS currency union countries. You can imagine the impact on these countries,” Browne added.

Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, the other OECS countries with a CBI program are St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and St. Kitts-Nevis.

Source: Antigua and Barbuda maintaining defense of Citizenship by Investment program

Some passports are better than others. Here’s a list of the most powerful ones

Like so many of these passport or citizenship indexes, this is largely a promotion to attract new clients to a firm, in this case, Nomad Capitalist, whose tagline is “We offer holistic strategies to help successful entrepreneurs and investors legally reduce their tax bill, create a Plan B, and grow their wealth globally.”

Unfortunately, the detailed methodology and full report was not on their website at time of posting. However, one factor that impacted Canada along with Australia and other countries was the degree to which they had relatively stricter COVID travel restrictions:

A new index ranks Luxembourg as the top passport in the world for aspiring global citizens.

The small European country ranked No. 1 out of 199 places in the “Nomad Passport Index 2022” published by the tax and immigration consultancy Nomad Capitalist.

While many passport rankings focus solely on visa-free travel, this index adds taxation, global perception, ability to obtain dual citizenship and personal freedoms into its scoring.

“I don’t think visa-free travel is all that matters,” said CEO Andrew Henderson.

For example, U.S. and Canadian passports are similar in terms of travel strength, he said. However, “if you’re an American, you’re subject to taxes … no matter where you live, and so those two passports should not be ranked next to each other.”

Five factors

Here is the index’s methodology:

Regarding tax policies, 10 points were assigned to places with worldwide taxation (United States) and 50 points for those with no tax (United Arab Emirates). Those that placed other tax restrictions on passport holders scored somewhere in between.

The list

Here’s the top 50 list:

The top 10 rankings remained unchanged from last year, with the half-point difference between No. 1 Luxembourg and No. 2 Sweden coming down to “one extra country visa,” said Henderson.

Taxes are high in both countries, “but if you want to leave, it’s relatively flexible,” he said. Both countries are perceived well globally and rank highly for personal freedom, said Henderson, noting Sweden demonstrated the latter with its hands-off approach to the pandemic.

The complete list can be viewed at Nomad Capitalist’s website.

What changed in the past year?

Nearly 85% of the places in the top 30 list are in Europe.

What’s notable, said Henderson, is that countries like Malta, Iceland and Slovakia — places “that people don’t often talk about” in terms of passport strength — hold their own against powerhouses such as Italy and Germany. They also score above countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and United States.

Vanuatu slipped from tied for 69th place in 2021 to 85th this year, after the Council of the European Union partially suspended its visa waiver agreement with the island nation earlier this month. The decision was prompted by concerns that Vanuatu’s investor citizenship schemes — which allow people to obtain citizenship in exchange for $130,000 investments in the islands — posed a security threat to the EU, according to the Council’s website.

Citizenship was granted to people on the Interpol database and rejection rates were “extremely low,” according to the website.

A ‘passport portfolio’

It’s not necessarily the case that the higher a country’s passport ranking, the more suitable it is for someone looking to obtain a second or third citizenship there, said Henderson.

People generally build a “passport portfolio” for one of two reasons: to reduce their taxes or to have a back-up residency plan. A Luxembourg citizenship likely won’t serve either of these groups, he said.

But citizenship in Portugal, the Caribbean or Malta may — especially for people in the second group.

The index also demonstrates that some countries’ passports are stronger than people realize.

“There are passports that people don’t realize are actually pretty good,” he said. “Malaysia barely beats out the United States, which is very interesting … Everyone I’ve ever met from Central America doesn’t like their passport … [but] Central American passports are actually pretty good quality.”

Source: Some passports are better than others. Here’s a list of the most powerful ones

Bulgaria ends controversial ‘golden passports’ scheme

EU Parliament having an impact:

Bulgaria has abolished its controversial “golden passports” scheme offering citizenship of the EU member state in return for substantial investment, which had been criticised by Brussels.

The scheme made it possible for foreigners to acquire residency when they invested a minimum of 500,000 euros ($550,000) in Bulgaria, and citizenship when they invested one million euros ($1.1m).

The beneficiaries were primarily from Russia, China and the Middle East.

Bulgaria’s new government, which has made fighting corruption a key priority, had already urged parliament to discontinue the granting of such passports in January.

The decision by Bulgarian MPS on Thursday comes after the awarding of “golden passports” was again condemned by the European Parliament in the light of Western sanctions targetting Russian oligarchs over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, MEPs repeated their call on Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus to scrap both “golden passports” and “golden visas”.

The European Commission has repeatedly called for the abolition of such schemes because they create an incentive for corruption and money laundering.

Full review

As part of the decision, MPs also authorised a full review of all passports granted since the scheme was launched in 2013.

According to the justice ministry, about 100 such passports have been awarded to date.

The previous interim administration had last year flagged concerns about possible irregularities in 47 cases.

Despite the decision, there will still be the option of acquiring a residence permit under the scheme.

Malta has also said it would suspend granting “golden passports” to Russians and Belarusians until further notice following the invasion of Ukraine.

According to the European Parliament, at least 130,000 people obtained a “golden passport” or a “golden visa” in the bloc between 2011 and 2019, generating 21.8 billion euros ($23.9bn) for the countries concerned.

Source: Bulgaria ends controversial ‘golden passports’ scheme

St Vincent Prime Minister reiterates opposition to CBI programs

Recent restrictions having an impact along with the realization that these programs attract a lot of vagabonds and criminals and people who want to use their money to escape the extent of scrutiny.”:

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves has reiterated his government’s position regarding the Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI), saying legislative moves in the United States and European Union recently, show that his administration’s position on the program is correct.

Under the CBI, foreign investors are afforded citizenship of a country in return for making a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the particular country. Several Caribbean countries have instituted CBI programs.

Gonsalves said the United States has moved to decline visas to holders of passports obtained by CBI and the European Union has passed a law giving countries three years to phase out the program or face visa requirements for all its passports holders.

He said there is a bipartisan move in the US Congress, with a Republican and a Democrat introducing a bill “to clamp down on these what they call golden passports, passports, which you get through citizenship by investment, selling the passport, selling the citizenship.”

Prime Minister Gonsalves said the law took “a little bit further” what was being done administratively.

“If you buy your passport, buy your citizenship, the Americans had taken a decision administratively not to give you any visa.”

He said where someone who obtains a passport from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis, or St Lucia through CBI can travel visa-free to the United Kingdom and the EU, “the United States has practically closed the door.”

Gonsalves said Canada has done so to some extent “because Canada even though you have to apply for visas, a few of them who have purchased passports, they got into Canada.”

Gonsalves said some European Union countries including Bulgaria, Malta, and Cyprus also have CBI programs.

“The Russian yacht which had come down here, that Russian came here on a passport from Cyprus. But he was not sanctioned.”

The superyacht “Anna” docked in Kingstown on March 4, with its owner, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, onboard and purchased 40,000 gallons of fuel before setting sail one day later.

Gonsalves said Rybolovlev was not under sanctions as both the US and Europe imposed measures following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He further said a resolution was passed in the European Parliament directing the European Commission to ban “golden passports.

“You can go online on the European Parliament website and find this particular resolution, this text which was adopted and basically what it says that they are given the countries three years, between now and 2025,

“You have one of two choices: you abolish citizenship by investment, you abolish the selling of passports and citizenship by 2025, and they give you three years for you to gradually phase it out. You ain’t supposed to do any new program.”

“All Antiguans, all Grenadians, all Kittians, all St. Lucians, all Dominicans, would lose entry into Europe, and the United Kingdom is planning the same thing. So, if you want to go to France where you can go there now without a visa, you will require a visa,” Gonsalves said.

The EU Parliament has called for an EU “levy of a meaningful percentage on the investments made – until ‘golden passports’ are phased out, and indefinitely for ‘golden visas’” within the block.

“It also asks the Commission to put pressure on third countries that benefit from visa-free travel to the EU to follow suit,” according to the website.

The resolution passed by the parliament with 595 votes to 12 and 74 abstentions says golden passports should be phased out fully.

At least 130,000 people benefitted from CBI/RBI schemes in the EU from 2011 to 2019, generating revenues of over Euro 21.8 billion (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) for the countries concerned.

Gonsalves warned that if Britain, which is not a member of the European Union, “does the same way like the Europeans, it puts everybody into trouble by not having the visa; just like how Canada cut off theirs.

“But additionally, who’s going to buy your passport if you can’t get in any way visa-free?”

Gonsalves recalled that the CBI program had been a major issue in the 2015 and 2020 general elections.

The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) supports a CBI program for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“And, you know, the position that I take on citizenship by investment… That is the glamorous name for selling citizenship and selling passports. A rose by another name, or, as the case may be, a pit toilet by any other name,” Gonsalves said, adding that he has always maintained that in principle and practice, CBI “is a mistake.”

He said in principle, a country “mustn’t sell our instruments of nationhood.

“Citizenship is the highest office in the land, higher than the prime minister, higher than governor general. It’s not a commodity for sale. And the passport is the outward sign of the inward grace of citizenship and that, too, is not for sale. You have heard me on that mantra, over and over again.”

He said that in practice, CBI is not sustainable.

“And in any case, it is bringing a lot of vagabonds and criminals and people who want to use their money to escape the extent of scrutiny.”

Source: St Vincent Prime Minister reiterates opposition to CBI programs

EU parliament demands end to ‘golden passports’ for Russians

Long overdue, not just for Russians:

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to end the practice of EU countries selling citizenship and visas to rich individuals.

It comes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with many wealthy Russians having received EU passports in exchange for significant investments.

Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday voted 595 for, 12 against and with 74 abstentions to end the so called ‘golden passport’ schemes.

They are calling for an all out ban on the purchase of citizenship by 2025 but want significantly increased background checks to come into force immediately.

The vote is however not binding. It is now up to the European Commission to outline a detailed proposal of how to end the schemes and then the EU’s national government will have the final say on the matter.

“The system of golden passports and visas carries with it inherent risks of tax evasion, corruption and money laundering.” said Saskia Bricmont MEP, a Green MEP from Belgium. “For too long oligarchs, criminals and corrupt politicians have had the ability to buy their way into Europe and launder their cash, image and identities.”

Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are the EU countries which have run the most lucrative golden passportschemes.

It is estimated that in the eight-year period until 2019, over €20 billion of investments came into EU countries in this manner.

“The time of asking national governments nicely is over,” said Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veldt during the European Parliament debate. “[We need] the total complete abolition of this procedure, not simply to reduce it but to completely eliminate it.”

Members of the European Parliament accepted in the report that the move would lead to shortfalls in national budgets and allowed for a phased out approach.

Values for sale

The report into the golden passports has been moving through the European Parliament for a while but came into focus when the schemes were specifically mentioned in a joint EU statement alongside the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, in the immediate hours after Russian invaded in Ukraine.

It is unknown exactly how many Russian citizens have received an EU passports through the schemes, but in April 2021 a leak of documents suggested Malta was giving out passports in exhange for investments of around €910,000 ($1 million) and that the income amounted to €432 million the country’s 2018 budget.

When that leak came out, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “European values are not for sale.”

Gaining an EU passport allows the bearer to travel freely within the EU’s border-free Schengen area, to access healthcare in all EU member states, to live and work anywhere, and also to enjoy the tax situation in that country’s jurisdiction.

Damage done

Last minute amendments to the European Parliament’s report saw EU lawmakers demand an immediate end of the schemes for Russians – other nationalities who profit from them like Saudis and Chinese would be included in the phase out.

Many experts warn that while the move comes alongside the cutting sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs who prop him up, those who already have the passports cannot be kicked out.

“The damage is done” Jacob Kirkegaard said senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund told DW. “But at least the war finally may have shamed the relevant national governments into ending this corrupt practice”

EU Commissioner Didier Reynders believes the EU’s position against selling passports is clear

The European Commission, which drafts EU law, rejects the need for new rules to end the golden passport schemes, believing the current legal position in the EU against them is clear.

EU Justice Commission Didier Reynders told the house in Strasbourg that country’s should check the passports which have already been issued and pointed to legal proceedings which were started against Malta and Cyprus in 2020 as evidence that Brussels was already acting to end the schemes.

Source: EU parliament demands end to ‘golden passports’ for Russians

How Citizenship by Investment Unlocks the Potential of Cryptocurrency: Marketing messaging

I always find the language that lawyers and consultants use in marketing citizenship-by-investment of interest. Now with the addition of cryptocurrency to the mix, the attraction of these programs to those of dubious backgrounds and motivations becomes even clearer.

The language around freedom, tone-deaf during the Ukrainian invasion, mirrors the “freedom” convoy language but one for the wealthy and ultra-wealthy:

The debate revolving around the true meanings of sovereignty and freedom greatly increased over the past couple of years. The pursuit of one’s individuality in a world dominated by identification has made headlines, focusing heavily on the growing trend of cryptocurrency.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, an increasing number of people have jumped on the bandwagon, investing in various types of digital currency.

While the growing values of major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum have undoubtedly played a significant role in attracting a large number of investors, it is the potential of cryptocurrency that remains its main allure.

But there is one more factor that makes cryptocurrency a highly sought out venture, the financial independence it brings to the table. Cryptocurrency is truly decentralized, giving its holders the freedom to roam free. Yet, there is another venture that provides similar advantages in terms of physical freedom; citizenship by investment.

Those with more than one nationality enjoy greater travel, economic, and political freedom than single nationality holders. This sovereignty gives breath to an entirely different lifestyle, just as cryptocurrency destroys the shackles of centralized finance. Hence, it is only reasonable that both ventures go hand in hand, but that is just the beginning.

Where Cryptocurrency & Citizenship by Investment intersect

The intersection point of both cryptocurrency and citizenship by investment is clear – freedom. But the real beauty of the matter is how both issues elegantly harmonize, complementing each other to achieve even greater potential.

Cryptocurrency on its own may be shackled by a certain government or regulation. In the US, for example, cryptocurrency investors can have a tough time dealing with their crypto-assets. Americans are notoriously excluded from certain new coin offerings, while the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes capital gains on profit made from cryptocurrency sales exceeding 10,000 USD.

But that is just the start of it. Let’s say a crypto investor sells one Bitcoin, which is about 68,000 USD. A staggering 58,000 USD of that sum would be liable for capital gains tax. But there is more.

Biden’s government is currently working on a tax reform that will increase capital gains tax from 20% to a whopping 39.6%. This reform could destabilize, if not outright demolish, a cryptocurrency investor’s profit margin.

Crypto in the Caribbean

In St. Kitts & Nevis, however, cryptocurrency gains are not taxed, mainly because the Caribbeannation’s government does not impose any capital gains tax.

Its citizens are not excluded from coin offerings, and banks in the nation do not shy away from working with crypto investors.

There are no limits on a Nevisian LLC, for example, in terms of working with cryptocurrency, and the twin-island nation even has Bitcoin ATMs littered throughout the country.

But the best part of it is; St. Kitts & Nevis has a citizenship by investment program.

Interested investors can obtain a St. Kittian passport for an investment starting at 150,000 USD(almost two Bitcoin), and are free to conduct their crypto activity as they see fit.

Major cryptocurrency investors, like the renowned Roger Ver, have taken the plunge, getting a St. Kitts & Nevis passport, renouncing their US one, and living life to the fullest in the Caribbean.

Cryptocurrency gives people a certain degree of financial freedom, but its entire potential is unlocked through obtaining a citizenship of a crypto-friendly, tax-favourable country like St. Kitts & Nevis.

But St. Kitts & Nevis isn’t the only option for cryptocurrency investors; as its neighbour Antigua & Barbuda has a similar mindset when it comes to cryptocurrency, and both are part of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), which is the first political-economic organization to launch its own digital currency, dubbed DCash.

Whether the ECCU’s DCash garners the same enthusiasm as Bitcoin has is still to be seen, but the entire enterprise is a testament to the organization’s (and its member’s) attitude toward cryptocurrency.

St. Kitts & Nevis’ citizenship by investment program has long been a route for high net worth individuals (HNWIs) to obtain greater global mobility, enhanced financial freedom, and a robust plan to mitigate political and economic instability.

Crypto & Global Freedom

Combining Citizenship by Investment Programs with cryptocurrency elevates the degree of freedom, allowing a person to roam the globe along with their wealth.

Combining a second citizenship with cryptocurrency knocks down all types of major barriers, giving the term individual sovereignty much more meaning.

The head of the St. Kitts & Nevis citizenship by investment program, Les Khan, recently stated in an interview that one of the largest applicant nationality pools were Americans, and it comes as no surprise.

True freedom has evolved from just being able to travel visa-free into something much more complex, and cryptocurrency investors tend to have that mindset of emancipation, which intersects beautifully with citizenship by investment.

But it isn’t just Americans, as no one knows how global governments will deal with taxing, or even banning, cryptocurrency trade; and the best route around that uncertainty is through obtaining a second citizenship.

Book A Free Consultation

The United Arab Emirates and MENA regions are home to some of the wealthiest individuals in the world.

At Savory & Partners, we have assisted an important number of crypto investors in the Middle Eastand North Africa region, securing their second citizenship and passport for themselves and their families.

If you would like to know more about getting a second citizenship and how it could enhance your lifestyle as well as your cryptocurrency trading, contact us today to book a free, comprehensive consultation with one of our seasoned consultants.

Savory & Partners is an accredited agent for multiple governments where citizenship by investment is offered. Founded in 1797, the agency has evolved from pharmaceuticals to family assets and legacy protection through second citizenship and residency. The company’s professional, multinational staff is made up of expert advisors who have guided thousands of clients, including many North African investors, on their journey to find the most suitable CBI program for them. The Savory & Partners team will be happy to answer your enquiries in English, Arabic and French.

Source: How Citizenship by Investment Unlocks the Potential of Cryptocurrency

EU Targets Golden Visas in Clampdown on Dirty Money

Long overdue:

European Union lawmakers voted to limit so-called golden visas, as countries across the region clamp down on cash-for-passport programs.

Wednesday’s European parliament vote, which passed with a 595 to 12 majority, aims to ban “golden passports” and set up EU-level regulation on visas that includes stronger background checks on applicants and the source of their wealth. After the vote, the parliament expects the European Commission to propose legislation to standardize programs across the common area.

“The commission has a duty now to act,” MEP Sophie In’t Veld said during a press conference in Strasbourg ahead of the vote. “The whole situation with the war in Ukraine has again put spotlight on the problem of people buying passports, buying residency, buying access to the EU.”

Parliament wants the Commission to come up with a legislative proposal that will ban golden passports, phasing them out by 2025 while regulating golden visas to ensure that investments flow into the real economy. Lawmakers are also asking for stringent background checks, including on family members and on the origin of funds. In addition, the parliament called on the EU Commission to ban Russian nationals who are subject to EU sanctions from all so-called residence-by-investment schemes.

European lawmakers also want to put pressure on third countries, such as Panama or Saint Kitts & Nevis, to abolish visa schemes that allow people who receive the documents to travel freely across the EU.

Thirteen member states currently have programs that allow citizens of non-EU countries to acquire an EU passport or residency permit in exchange for an investment such as real estate or bonds. Without any European-wide rules in place, the eligibility requirements vary greatly across the region, with the minimum investment ranging from 127,000 euros ($140,000) in Bulgaria to 1.2 million euros in the Netherlands. The golden visa programs have attracted about 3.5 billion euros per year from 2016 to 2019, according to European Parliament research.

In 2020, the European Commission opened legal action against Cyprus and Malta for their cash-for-passports schemes which grant EU citizenship to investors “without a genuine link” to the country.  Bulgaria, which also has a citizenship-by-investment scheme, has tabled a draft bill to end it.

Member states including Portugal, Greece and the Czech Republic have halted the issuance of visas to Russian nationals in light of the war in Ukraine. Last month, the U.K. scrapped its investor visa scheme to crack down on money laundering. Bulgaria also moved in that direction with a bill to drop golden passports altogether.

“We consider that operating investor citizenship schemes that systematically offer citizenship in exchange for pre-determined payments and investments, without a genuine link with the Member States concerned, violates EU law,” the commission said in a statement.

Source: EU Targets Golden Visas in Clampdown on Dirty Money

Uncertainty For Malta As US Bill Seeks To Ban Countries Which Sell Citizenship From Visa Waiver Programme

Of note:

Two US Congressmen, from both sides of the American political fence, have presented a bill to exclude countries which sell citizenship from its visa waiver program.

This bill could have serious implications for Malta, which is one of 40 countries that benefit from the program, which allows people to travel to the US for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

Republican Congressman Burgess Owens and Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen have now presented the ‘No Travel for Traffickers Act’, which would revoke a country’s eligibility for the US Visa Waiver Programme if they participate in citizenship-by-investment schemes.

The Act would also direct the US executive to cooperate with the EU and the UK to eliminate Schengen area visa-free travel for countries that sell passports and prohibit US public funds to vet ‘golden passport’ applicants.

“Also known as ‘golden passports’, these schemes require little vetting and are notoriously abused by human traffickers, international criminals, and corrupt oligarchs,” the Congressmen said. “Russia is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to using these golden passport schemes as a back door into other countries.”

Rep. Owens said the Act signals a critical step “in our efforts to isolate bad actors around the globe”, while Rep. Cohen warned citizenship-by-investment schemes allow traffickers to escape accountability for their crimes. 

Malta launched its original citizenship-by-investment scheme in 2013 but revamped it in 2020, only allowing applicants to apply for citizenship after one year of residence in the country against a €750,000 fee, or after three years if they pay €600,000.

The government has insisted due diligence procedures to vet applicants are among the strictest in the world.

It is facing renewed international pressure to scrap the scheme, including by European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“We can no longer sell passports to Putin’s friends allowing them to circumvent our security. No more,” Metsola said this week.

Source: Uncertainty For Malta As US Bill Seeks To Ban Countries Which Sell Citizenship From Visa Waiver Programme

West targets Russia’s elite by limiting ‘golden passport’ citizenship sales as it applies pressure on the coun

Of note, along with other measures. Eliminating ‘golden passport’ citizenship should be permanent, not just for Russian oligarchs:

Western leaders are increasing the pressure on Russia by imposing further economic measures that target the country’s wealthiest.

In a joint statement published by the European Commission on Saturday, the US, UK, Europe, and Canada announced they will limit the sale of “golden passports,” which enables Russia’s richest individuals to invest in a country in exchange for citizenship.

Western allies wrote in the statement: “We commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship—so called golden passports—that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.”

The move comes in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine early Thursday morning, in what was termed a “full-scale” invasion.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said in a tweet that the measures intend to “cripple Putin’s ability to finance his war machine.”

She added: “Putin embarked on a path aiming to destroy Ukraine. But what he is also doing, in fact, is destroying the future of his own country.”

A golden passport comes with multiple benefits, which Russia’s elite now stand to lose. This includes freedom of movement within the Schengen Zone for all family members.

The new wave of sanctions comes immediately after Western forces announced that select Russian banks will be ejected from the SWIFT banking system. The decision underscored a change of stance from some countries that initially opposed Russia’s removal from SWIFT.

For example, Germany’s foreign minister said Friday she did not believe a ban was the best course of action, per Reuters.

In the Saturday statement, the US, UK, Europe, and Canada vowed to “collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin” with the new penalties.

Source: West targets Russia’s elite by limiting ‘golden passport’ citizenship sales as it applies pressure on the country