Bulgaria moves to end practice of ‘golden passports’

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Bulgaria’s new government on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at getting rid of “golden passports”, a programme that allows people to become citizens in exchange for large investments.

The European Commission has repeatedly expressed concern about this practice and launched infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus over it.

It considers that it presents risks for the EU, which “relate in particular to security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption”.

In June 2021, Brussels sent a letter to the Bulgarian authorities asking them to abolish such passports of convenience.

Foreigners investing the minimum sum of one million leva (€500,000) can obtain a permanent resident title.

For double that, they can obtain citizenship without going through the more tedious stages of a traditional procedure. But the government detected irregularities in 47 cases, almost half of the total.

The Ministry of Justice cites in particular the example of investors having resold titles or a property recently acquired just after their naturalisation.

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s cabinet, which has been in office since mid-December, said they would end the practice due to “the absence of real investments in the economy, likely to lead to job creation”.

The bill, supported by a large part of the political class, has yet to be approved by parliament.


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