Campaign groups call for ‘golden visa’ transparency as data reveals potential abuse of scheme

Wednesday May 04, 2022 3:45 p.m.

Campaign groups have stepped up calls for greater transparency in the use of Britain’s now closed ‘golden visa’ scheme after new data revealed nearly 50 were offered to foreign nationals under 21.

The scheme, which closed in February, was designed to boost investment in the UK by offering wealthy individuals the opportunity to settle in return for funding commitments.

But 46 of the visas were offered to people under the age of 21 between 2015 and 2021, according to Home Office data acquired via Bloomberg, raising fears the system could be abused.

Campaign group Transparency International has asked the Home Office to release a report revealing the inner workings of the scheme.

“The Home Office should publish its long-awaited review with individual cases investigated where there are concerns that candidates have made their money through crime or corruption,” said Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency. InternationalUK.

“Only through true openness can we hope that enough people will learn from the mistakes of the past.”

Transparency International said its research had previously shown that more than 3,000 people and their families from countries at high risk of corruption had been welcomed into the UK between 2008 and 2015 via the golden visa route with “little or no controls over the source of their wealth.

But Hames said “we are still largely in the dark about the true extent of the regime’s abuse”.

Tory MP John Penrose, who is the government’s anti-corruption champion, told Bloomberg that “golden visas could have been a loophole for children of kleptocrats to live golden lives in London funded by money.” dirty money”.

The scheme was shut down by Home Secretary Priti Patel in February as part of a crackdown on dirty money circulating in London.

She said the road closure was the start of a “renewed crackdown on fraud and illicit financing”.

“We will release an action plan against fraud, while the upcoming economic crime bill will crack down on people who abuse our financial institutions and better protect the taxpayer,” she said.

London has struggled with the ‘laundry’ label in recent months as its role as a haven for dirty money has come under increasing scrutiny.

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