Golden Visa corruption

Golden Visa corruption probe reveals ‘millions in backhanders’

Serious crime squad detectives are reported to be investigating high-ranking government officials, including a senior judge, over suspected corruption in the controversial Golden Visa programme.
Pushed through by deputy PM Paulo Portas in 2012, the programme was designed as a way of kick-starting the national economy. “Golden” visas were to be given to non-Europeans investing in property and creating new jobs in Portugal. But far from stimulating business ventures, the programme is reported to have served more to help government officials make millions on the side.
In a series of exclusives running this week in Correio da Manhã newspaper, the Golden Visa scheme is alleged to have inflated property prices – particularly in Lisbon – solely for foreign buyers.
In other words, there are two property scales in operation now: one for regular customers and another for those seeking “golden visas”, reports the newspaper.
Elsewhere, there is a web of “octopus-like” proportions, weaving its tentacles into all manner of murky deals.
At the heart of DCIAP’s investigations “are suspicions of millionaire-style backhanders for State personnel responsible for decision-making in the process of attributing visas to immigrants – particularly the Chinese and Angolans”.
“A parallel scheme of illegal commissions – with backhanders to the tune of around 10% – has been created around many of the deals, run by an octopus with various tentacles”.
“Suspicions are centred on people with responsibilities in an institute, in the forces and secret service and a very senior judge,” continues the paper.
“They have all been made aware that they are under investigation, and that there are also suspicions of money-laundering involved.”
Intriguingly, CM points out that while “golden visas” were also designed to benefit non-Europeans whose financial dealings created jobs, only two of the nearly 1,000 visas attributed so far have created any kind of employment opportunities.
The majority of applicants have opted simply to buy properties.
This has reportedly opened the door to property price inflations of up to 54% – though thus far none of the allegations have led to any arrests.
SEF, the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, is understood to be “cooperating” with investigators and keen to calm any whiff of scandal.
Nonetheless, CM reports that “at least one high ranking employee in SEF” is believed to have “favoured some candidates” for Golden Visas “in exchange for backhanders” – while the online version of Sábado magazine reveals that one of the personalities in the eye of investigators is António Figueiredo, the head of the Instituto de Registos e Notariado (notary and house registration institute).