Chinese revolt over Golden Visa deception

Chinese revolt over Golden Visa deception

As Operation Labyrinth busily collates the information it needs to press ahead with corruption charges, Chinese “Golden Visa” businessmen are reported to be consulting legal advice to see if they can get any of their property transactions annulled.
Wang Dong Xu, 44, Wang Gingxa, 51 and Xu Duo Quan, 50, are three of the human faces of the scandal that – among other allegations of illegalities – suggests properties were sold in exchange for golden visas at vastly elevated prices.
“We want our €500,000 back, so that we can buy houses that are really worth this amount of money,” Wang Gingxa told reporters.
Photographed wearing a white t-shirt emblazoned with characters in Mandarin Chinese which he explained read: “We were cheated with immigration”, Wang Gingxa said he and his two friends discovered they had paid the “top whack” of €500,000 (entitling them to “golden visa” residencies) for properties that were not worth half the amount.
It is a story that received widespread news coverage in Chinese newspaper Pu Hua Bao weeks before the scandal broke in Portugal.
According to the Domingo magazine of Correio da Manhã, Pu Hua Bao – a paper “written in Mandarin and destined for the resident community in Portugal” – published an alert in October warning Chinese “to be careful” as the residency authorisations “were not as golden as they seemed”.
“The honeymoon with Portugal has transformed into a nightmare,” continued the paper, outlining various cases from Lisbon to the Algarve where countrymen felt they had been defrauded.
Many of the golden visa buyers are now faced with trying to redress the wrong they feel has happened to them, adds CM.
Meantime, in Portugal, the principal defendants are still behind bars, awaiting bail terms.
In an exclusive on the investigation, CM reveals that the former secretary-general of Justice, Maria Antónia Anes, has been found to have over a million euros worth of “savings” and property.
CM reported on its website over the weekend that over €500,000 in cash was apprehended from Anes, while €150,000 was confiscated from IRN boss António Figueiredo.
Searches of offices and property as part of the investigation are also reported to have resulted in the confiscation of a number of “sealed envelopes each containing €100” from SEF headquarters.
The envelopes were not thought to have been the property of SEF boss Manuel Palos, who along with Anes, Figueiredo and Jaime Couto Alves, remains in custody.
They are more likely to have been destined for SEF employees, writes CM, a number of whom were rounded up two weeks ago as Operation Labyrinth made its first detentions.
As elsewhere, security services have been hailed with detaining a former prime minister for the first time in the history of Portuguese democracy, the detention of the head of SEF – a police organisation – has also been a first.
Thus the third “first” in this story comes as a breath of fresh air. Anabela Rodrigues, the new Minister for Internal Administration, has been described as “a lady of firsts”, and this was the first time her new role has been given to a woman.
Taking her first “big decision” less than two days into the job, Rodrigues has ordered a full inquiry into the issuing of Golden Visas – the inference being that she is “cleaning up” the whole act.
As Diário de Notícias reported over the weekend, the property sector has been seriously battered by the whole stigma of corruption and wants to see the system working for the good of the country and the economy.
Talking to Parliament last week, deputy prime minister Paulo Portas – a veritable ambassador of Portugal’s golden visa programme – insisted on the importance of attracting foreign investment, stressing that the scandal should not see people “confusing a tree for a forest”.