Review Of The UK’s ‘Golden Visas’ Reveals The Risk Of Linkage To Illicit Money

According to the British government, a small number of people who obtained so-called “golden visas” for wealthy investors may have obtained their wealth through corruption or other illegal financial activity.

In the days before the invasion of Ukraine, the government scrapped the visas, which had offered a path to residency for those investing at least 2 million pounds ($2.43 million), amid concerns about the inflow of illicit Russian money.

After the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in 2018, the government commissioned a review, the details of which were only released to parliament on Thursday.

“The review of cases identified a small minority of individuals connected to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route that were potentially at high risk of having obtained wealth through corruption or other illicit financial activity, and/or being engaged in serious and organised crime,” the Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a written statement.

The wealthy have flocked to London over the last two decades, buying everything from opulent homes to soccer clubs and commercial property. They range from Russian oligarchs and Middle Eastern oil barons to newly minted Chinese entrepreneurs.

The influx of super-rich people has brought tens of billions of pounds in investment and helped London maintain its position as one of the world’s top financial centers, but the government is concerned about the source of some of the wealth, particularly in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Braverman said the review found that applicants for the visas “attracted a disproportionate number of applicants from the countries identified in the UK’s National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing”.

“Evidence of high-risk applicants seeking out and exploiting financial institutions with the weakest customer due diligence controls,” she said, was also discovered during the review.

The government refused to estimate the number of visas issued to people with potentially criminal backgrounds, but Braverman said ten unnamed oligarchs sanctioned for their links to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were among those who used the system.

(Adapted from Reuters.com)



Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Geopolitics, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Uncategorized

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