Corruption watchdogs accuse government of ‘hiding’ information on Golden Visas
Following on from their third challenge to the government to come clean over who exactly have been awarded ‘golden’ residency visas, the Portuguese branch of Transparency International has presented a formal complaint to the Commission for Access to Administrative Data (CADA).
The document is designed to force the government’s hand, finally.
Says TI’s Susana Coroado, “the government continues to cover Golden Visas with a blanket of silence. Beyond being illegal, it’s indefensible”.
What TI wants to know “among other things, is how many visas have been denied or cancelled, how many jobs have been effectively created by the programme and what risk analysis or due diligence is made concerning Golden Visa applicants”.
These demands follow warnings by the European Commission that golden visa programmes throughout Europe are open to risks of money-laundering and tax evasion.
The EC has also highlighted “lack of controls and transparency”.
“It’s time to stop running”, stresses Coroado. “The government has to put its cards on the table and comply with its legal and political obligation to show accounts on this scheme, starting with answering requests for information from civil society”.~
Only last month, the European Commission published a report in which it “considered Golden Visas pose a threat to the security and integrity of the European Union”.
Prime minister António Costa told parliament that he would review the scheme that has brought well over four billion euros flooding into the country since it began in the times of the last administration.
This revision “cannot be done in secret”, stresses Susana Coroado. “The information has to be made public, the risks have to be assessed and we have to see accounts. If not we run the risks of simply more cosmetic changes to a regime that remains the same”.
TI’s efforts have been relentless (click here) and are fully supported by battling Socialist MEP Ana Gomes who has been pushing for the names of Golden Visa beneficiaries since the programme started in 2012.
Gomes has said that she is quite certain that if a list was ever handed over, it would show “a series of people with criminal records in their own country who haven’t been subject to any searches by anyone in Portugal”.