Possible money laundering with Portugal’s golden visa

What is Portugal’s golden visa program?

Not only in Cyprus, but EU passports are also sold under the visa cover to wealthy foreigners. In Portugal too, you can become a citizen of the EU with the portgual golden visa – and at the same time transfer large sums of money out of the country.

Even across Portugal, foreign business people have apparently found a way to obtain EU citizenship. Several Brazilian entrepreneurs are said to have paid large sums of money to obtain a “golden visa” in Portugal. This reports “The Guardian”.

Previously, the newspaper had already reported on Russian oligarchs and rich Syrian businessmen, who have been issued by the investments in Cyprus the EU passport – even though they were sanctioned by the US. In Portugal, an investor must invest 500,000 euros in real estate to obtain the “golden residence permit”. After five years, the permit can then be converted into citizenship. This gives investors the opportunity to live and work in the EU.

This plan is apparently also pursued by several entrepreneurs in Brazil, who are said to be involved in corruption. For more than two years, the effects of the billion dollar scandal have been felt. In addition to the parastatal oil company Petrobras also politicians and numerous construction companies were involved. One of these entrepreneurs is Ot├ívio Azevedo, former president of the construction company “Andrade Gutierrez”. After he admitted being involved in bribery around the scandal, the court sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

Two years before the sentence Azevedo had bought a property in Lisbon for 1.4 million euros and applied for a golden visa. One of his spokespersons said he did not have any information as to whether the application was accepted. Legally, there is nothing against a commitment and the Brazilian authorities are also informed about the investment.

Allegation of money laundering

The documents available to the Guardian also list other allegedly corrupt businessmen who had secured a “golden visa” in Portugal in the run-up to the scandal between 2013 and 2014. The big accusation against the visa programs of European countries for dubious business people is obvious: money laundering. This means that large sums of money can be transferred abroad and would be difficult to trace back.

As early as 2014, the Portuguese authorities had arrested eleven people who had paid for their visa with bribes. New requests will be reviewed following an evaluation process, criminal records and consultation of national and international databases, as well as information exchange in the context of police cooperation, the Portuguese Government said in a statement.

According to the Portuguese government, 66 percent of “golden visas” have been awarded to Chinese investors since 2012. Again, many points to dodgy machinations: In China, it 

is illegal to spend more than 50,000 US dollars per year out of the country.