Bulgaria to abolish its Golden Visa program

Bulgaria’s golden visa program could be terminated after it has often been in the spotlight for numerous illegal businesses, including money laundering and corruption.

This decision was announced by the government, which plans to submit the bill to parliament, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that the golden visa regime has not led to real investment in the Balkan country. Such an announcement had already been reported by EURACTIV.

In this regard, the office of Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said that it plans to abolish such a regime due to “the absence of real investments in the economy, likely to lead to the creation of jobs”.

However, such a bill supported by many politicians in Bulgaria has not yet been approved by the government of the country.

Internationals who make a minimum investment of one million leva (€500,000) can obtain permanent resident status in Bulgaria.

The European Commission has repeatedly called on European countries that run such schemes to end them amid concerns about security, money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.

In this regard, in June last year, Brussels sent a letter to the Bulgarian authorities urging them to end the citizenship-by-investment scheme.

According to the report published by EURACTIV, a total of 96 internationals have Bulgarian golden passports, many of them Russian, followed by citizens of Middle Eastern countries.

Even though the Citizenship by Investment program attracts a large number of foreigners, it continues to be involved in many illicit businesses.

Previously, the golden visa programs of Greece and Portugal were considered to have systemic problems while being used for nefarious purposes due to the lack of background checks. Such conclusions were drawn by a report carried out by the Associated Press.

In addition, the Cypriot government has also announced that it will end its Golden Visa program on November 1 last year. Such a decision came after the investigative report published by Al Jazeera, known as the “Cyprus Papers”.

The same claimed that more than 1,000 internationals purchased citizenship in Cyprus from 2017 to 2019.

The European Union Commission has previously leveled accusations against Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta over their golden visa schemes.

In addition, a report published by Global Witness showed that many EU countries do not have adequate beneficial ownership registers in place, which aim to combat money laundering and other illegal business.

The report showed that these countries have “vulnerabilities” in their citizenship-by-investment programs, which make it easier for internationals involved in corruption cases to launder and hide their money in EU countries.

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