Portugal’s visa scandal: Buying their way in

AMONG the rising number of impoverished European governments that offer residence permits to rich non-Europeans, Portugal has been perhaps the most successful. In return for investments totalling over €1 billion ($1.25 billion), the Portuguese authorities have issued 1,775 “golden visas” in the past two years, four-fifths of them to Chinese investors.But success turned to scandal on November 13th, when the police detained 11 people, including the head of Portugal’s border agency. The police are understood to suspect that some properties supposedly bought to obtain a golden visa may have gone for far less than the €500,000 minimum the scheme requires; some of the difference may have been used to finance dodgy pay-offs. On November 16th the interior minister, Miguel Macedo, resigned.The investigation in Portugal could have wider ramifications across Europe, where countries from Greece and Spain to Latvia and Hungary run similar schemes. As in these countries, Portugal was trying to make up for a sharp drop in investment during its economic crisis. Under the scheme, a minimum amount spent buying a property entitles non-European families to live in the country for five years, after which they can apply for permanent residence. Paulo Portas, deputy prime minister and main advocate of the Portuguese scheme, credits it with reviving a moribund property market. Mr Portas is being…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/europe/21633854-schemes-effect-sell-visas-rich-foreigners-come-under-fire-buying-their-way?fsrc=rss|eur

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