Golden Passport schemes are super-prone to corruption at the highest levels. Selling passports in exchange for investments and some bribes is a huge business in the EU member states Malta, Cyprus, and Bulgaria. The EU Parliament is set to approve a report urging the EU to ban Golden Passport schemes by 2025 and immediately stop the issuance of visas and passports to rich Russians in exchange for investments. The move follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
EU member states such as Malta and Cyprus have made huge profits with their Golden Passport schemes. The EU’s vice president overseeing financial policy, Valdis Dombrovskis, set up a successful residence investment program in Latvia when he was prime minister there at the beginning of the last decade.
Malta must not only suspend the scheme for Russian and Belarusian citizens but has to stop it completely, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told the EU Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg on 7 March 2022 during a discussion on bringing residence by investment schemes to a halt in EU member states.
In October 2020, the EU Commission launched infringement procedures against Malta and Cyprus by issuing letters of formal notice regarding the Golden Passport schemes.
EU lawmakers say in their report that ending such schemes could have a significant economic impact in some countries. They are therefore proposing their gradual phaseout and tight rules for residence arrangements, including much more rigorous checks on applicants.
Early March 2022, the European Parliament discussed a draft legislative initiative report that sets out an array of measures to address problems linked to ‘citizenship and residence by investment schemes. MEPs will vote to stop golden passports by 2025 and for EU rules around golden visas.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told lawmakers that the EU executive disagreed with the need for new rules on sales of citizenship. It would already push through legal proceedings to shut down existing schemes in Malta, Cyprus, and Bulgaria.
While Cyprus has stopped its scheme, Bulgaria will take a vote in parliament on the matter. Malta has reluctantly suspended the scheme for Russian and Belorussian applicants after the Western Alliance took action against Russia following its aggression on Ukraine. Malta’s authorities say that due diligence checks cannot be carried out effectively because of the war. Stop these Golden Passport schemes and you will stop a lot of corruption!