In perhaps one of the most bizarre news stories of the day, outgoing secretary of state Jorge Costa Oliveira has declared that Portugal “needs to recover” the “excellent reputation” of its golden visa programme.
The fact that Oliveira is leaving government so that a Public Ministry probe can investigate free trips he enjoyed on planes chartered by an oil company that owes the State hundreds of millions of euros in unpaid taxes was not once mentioned in the Público report, which instead centred on his message: Portugal “will never be able to compete with the likes of Malta and Cyprus” (over golden visas) as “there will never be consensus in our community to offer more than the right to residency”. But the country still has “the opportunity and capacity to improve”.
In a roundabout way, Oliveira appeared to be exhorting the annual forum for construction businesses (AICCOPN) to push for Portugal’s golden visa programme to start ‘looking the other way’.
“Unfortunately, there still exist a lot of people who think property investment isn’t productive if the money evaporates the next day and isn’t introduced into the circuit”, he said – guaranteeing that “the government is working to create new “typologies to make it easier to capture investment and entrepreneurship”.
Público then alludes to Oliveira considering that border control agency SEF will never be able to cope properly with golden visas, as it has too much to do, and that the capture of investment should not be put/ left in the hands of those who entered a police service.
For those focused on simply attracting investment, the outgoing politician’s ideas will be more than welcome, but for people wary of the implications of a programme that gives Schengen access to anyone with money, they could ring all sorts of alarm bells.
By coincidence, Oliveira’s (final?) function as Secretary of State for Industrialisation – given that he is now an official suspect in a judicial investigation – followed revelations that a Lisbon lawyer has been arrested in Cascais for allegedly swindling six wealthy Chinese and South African golden visa applicants out of €5 million.
Maria Antónia Cameira was apparently poised to fly “to an African country” that did not have an extradition agreement with Portugal, and may be responsible for further swindles.
Tabloid Correio da Manhã suggests the total amount of money involved could reach €10 million.