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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.

The Golden Visa: Spain takes first place from Portugal in attracting foreign investment

Spain has taken the European leadership in issuing the Golden Visa, a resource to attract capital to our country in exchange for giving residence permits to foreign investors. To date, Portugal was the leader, but in April fell the issuance of this type of visa, 59% less than in March, up to 78 million euros, according to data from the Portuguese Confederation of Real Estate Construction (CPCI). 

For Reis Campos, president of CPCI, this is an issue that is being watched with caution by the market, as it is considered a “bankruptcy that occurs after an excellent first quarter and at a time when the real estate sector is signaling positive consolidation “. 

Thus, according to this agency, our country has managed to surpass Portugal in attracting investments, with a total of 1,554 million in 2016, a figure that remains above the 873 million euros registered in the Portuguese country. This fall is justified by the bureaucratic difficulties that exist to obtain and renew the famous ‘Golden Visa’. The CPCI considers that these bureaucratic obstacles have generated an undesirable feeling of distrust on the part of investors. 

Reis Campos has indicated that the Government has to take measures so that “we can stop the flight of investors to other countries and regain leadership. Portugal has the conditions to once again win a unique place as a privileged investment destination. ” 

In total, in our country, the well-known gold visa has attracted a total of 2,236 investors and has captured 2,157 million euros in investments since it was launched at the end of 2013, according to data from the State Secretariat of Commerce of Spain. Investments that have gone to the following concepts: 1,554 million euros to real estate; 495 million to business projects, and 108 million to financial assets.