International organization warns against lack of transparency in golden visas

  • ECO News
  • 23 March 2018

Transparency and Integrity, an anti corruption association, asked more concrete data on the granting of golden visas. However, that information is not included in the Government's archives.

Transparency and Integrity, an anti corruption association, asked more detailed data on the granting of golden visas in Portugal to three Government offices, including SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service). However, after being referred from one entity to the other, the association realized that the State does not have more detailed data than what it frequently published. The association is, therefore, worried about the lack of transparency in this system.

The Portuguese representative of Transparency International, Transparency and Integrity, “requested, on February 26, access to administrative files from the programme to SEF, the Economy Ministry and the State Secretary for Tax Affairs”, is stated in the press release from the association. The request included the total number of visas granted “per geographic distribution, nationality and sphere of activity”, as well as “the number of investments per company” or “the number of job positions created”, etc.

However, the representatives from Transparency and Integrity explain that “SEF did not reply, the Economy Ministry referred all questions to the Internal Affairs Ministry. The State Secretary of Tax Affairs Office gave the most revealing answer: the information is not organized in the Central Administration Archive”. Therefore, João Paulo Batalha, the head of the association, believes many situations “are not clear enough”.

The entity warns against the fact that the Residence Permit for Investment Activities Programme, commonly known as golden visas, “raises concerns about money laundering”, according to the investigator Susana Coroado. “We have come to the realization that there are breaches in the anti money laundering system in the country”, she adds.

According to the latest data from SEF, since golden visas were created until February 28 of this year, 5,876 golden visas were granted, representing a total investment of 3.60 billion euros. The Chinese, Brazilian and South Africans were the leading nationalities when it comes to obtaining golden visas in Portugal.