UCF Global Perspectives


EU Warns of Crime Risks of Governments’ Sales of Identification

Nalani Garcia, Isle of Man Small Countries Fellow

January 25, 2019

On Wednesday, the European Commission stated that passport and visa selling schemes in Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria pose a security risk to the European Union (EU) (Reuters 1). Those three countries are the only ones to sell “golden passports”, while 20 EU members, including Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria, sell “golden visas” (BBC). Rich foreigners can acquire a passport or visa by making large investments in their country of choice. Passports range from an investment of 1 to 2 million euros, while visas sell for 13,500 euros to 5 million euros (BBC).

While the passport selling schemes are legal, the European Commission claims that it presents “risks of infiltration of non-EU organized crime groups in the economy, money laundering, corruption and tax evasion,” (Reuters 2). The report released Wednesday indicates that there is not sufficient background checks on individuals who purchase a passport and a lack of transparency on who purchases a passport (Reuters 2). In response, Bulgaria plans to stop selling “golden passports” (Reuters 3). The Maltese and Cypriot government did not agree with the claims in the report stating that those concerns were already addressed (Bloomberg).


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