EC Warned Bulgaria About the Sale of Citizenship

The European Commission will warn that programs in some EU countries that allow rich foreigners to buy citizenship or residence can help organized crime groups from outside the EU to penetrate the bloc and increase the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, Reuters reported. The warning is contained in a draft report, seen by the agency, expected to be published by the European Commission on Wednesday.



Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are the only EU Member States in which citizenship programs are operating. Twenty states, including the three, sell residence permits. In the three countries, wealthy foreigners can buy passports that give them full access to most EU countries for investments ranging between one and two million euros, according to Reuters.

According to the report, the three countries do not have enough checks on the origin of the wealth of people who buy their citizenship. Permits for residence are sold from just under 15,000 euros in Croatia to over 5 million in Luxembourg and Slovakia. Portugal is also criticized for not checking the origin of wealth, and payments made by foreigners residing there create a potential risk of money laundering, the EC said.

The commission says it will set up an expert group that will provide recommendations by the end of the year on how to prevent the dangers arising from these schemes.
22 January 2019

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