Mon, Apr 08, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Chinese investors snap up Greek ‘Golden Visas’

AFP, ATHENS

Chinese investors led the so-called Golden Visa boom in Greece, where residence permits issued to citizens of non-EU countries grew 46 percent last year.

Other crisis-hit countries like Portugal and Spain have used the scheme for years to lure investors in a bid to stoke economic recovery. Spending a minimum of 250,000 euros (US$280,802) on a home in Greece secures a five-year renewable visa.

According to data from the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy published by the Kathimerini newspaper on Saturday, Chinese investors account for 58 percent of the residence permits issued since 2013.

Since the launch of the program until the end of the first trimester of this year, 4,154 permits were issued, the data showed. Of those, 1,399 were handed out last year, up from 961 in 2017.

Chinese investors have acquired 2,416 out of the 4,154 permits issued so far. Russian citizens came second with 428, followed by Turks, the data showed.

The European Commission published a report earlier this year urging members to curb the practice of granting golden visas and passports to foreign investors.

It singled out Cyprus, Bulgaria and Malta for running schemes granting citizenship to foreign investors for anywhere between 500,000 euros and 2 million euros.

Wealthy candidates for residency or citizenship do not face adequate security and background checks, the report said.

The Greek government last month brought a bill to parliament, broadening the criteria of its Golden Visa program.

Non-EU nationals would be granted a five-year residency permit provided that they invest at least 400,000 euros in Greek companies or if they buy Greek bonds through a Greek bank of the same value.

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