Russian businessman ‘wanted by Interpol’ is one of Portugal’s ‘golden visa recipients’

In a story doing the rounds this week, Portuguese readers are told about a former Russian politician wanted by authorities in his country for murder, holed out in Germany and the recipient of European ‘residency’ thanks to a Portuguese golden visa.

But there is a huge amount that national reports have not mentioned.

For a start, the “guilt or innocence” of Valeriy Panov is “totally unknown”, explained Huffington Post last year in a story that carried a large photograph of Panov alongside images of Donald Trump Jr, with whom he is understood to have shared the podium at a real estate summit in Russia in 2008.

The fact that Portuguese reports say he is hiding in Germany could be equally spurious.

Huffington Post suggests Panov “fled to America, but his whereabouts” (at least in 2017) “remain unknown”.

And far from the story being further indication that Golden Visas are being issued to criminals with ‘no questions asked’ (click here), Panov’s case is “a perfect example of the pitfalls of a system like Russia’s where high ranking political officials are frequently subjected to criminal court system intrigues”, says HP.

Panov’s fall from grace was reported in the Moscow Times in 2012 – reading like something from a 1950’s B-movie.

By then an “influential businessman” (according to Sábado), he was suspected of attempting to murder a former aide who married a woman he (Panov) “was in love with”.

Moscow Times claims that Panov hired an ex-con to ‘do the deed’ but that this ex-con contracted the job out to third parties.

Undercover police got wind of the plot and, posing as killers, carried out a ‘fake execution’.

Panov by this time had left Russia, according to business associates, on a holiday booked months in advance. And as far as we can tell, he hasn’t been back since.

The Interpol arrest warrant was issued three years later, by which time accusations against Panov had moved on from “murder out of jealousy” to “complicity in abuse of power”.

The relevance that Panov purchased property in Portugal and has thus had free passage through Schengen Space as a result of a Golden Visa is possibly also spurious.

Golden Visas “run out”, and have to be renewed. Candidates wanted for attempted murder splashed over the newspapers possibly don’t get the rubber stamp they have put in for.

Says Observador, Panov is “taking refuge in Germany and fearful of being caught. If he comes to Portugal, where he has a house, he could be arrested”.

[email protected]