The Financial Times reports that Brussels is preparing to crack down on EU governments, that award citizenships to rich people from outside the bloc, as concerns mount about so-called dirty money from Russia.
The EU states with “citizenship by investment” schemes include Malta, Cyprus, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Portugal.
Vera Jourova, the EU’s commissioner for justice, told the Financial Times that “citizenship for sale” schemes in eight member states will come under tougher scrutiny from Brussels as part of a wider drive against money laundering and corruption.
In the FT article there is emphasis on Cyprus and Malta.
The report says that she also specifically alluded to worries about the origins of the wealth of Russian applicants for Maltese citizenship.
“In cases of any doubt, a person should not have the privilege of citizenship,” Ms Jourova told the Financial Times. “We have no power to ban such a practice but we have an obligation to put high requirements on the member states to be careful. They are granting citizenship for the whole of Europe.”
Such schemes can require applicants to make substantial investments in property or bonds. In return they allow the new passport holders to work and live in any EU country and to travel freely inside the Schengen area.