India

UK halts ‘golden visa’ over money-laundering concerns – Hindustan Times

UK halts ‘golden visa’ over money-laundering concerns – Hindustan Times

A ‘golden visa’ that allows Indian and other foreign investors to migrate to the UK with at least £2 million is being halted from Friday over concerns over money-laundering and organised crime, official sources in London said on Thursday.

Launched in 2008, over 1,000 Tier 1 (Investors visa) have been granted until September 2018, mostly to Russian and Chinese investors, but they also include 76 Indian millionaires (and their 100 dependents) until 2017.

The initial investments thresholds were £1 million, £5 million or £10 million, which led to permanent residence in 5, 3 or 2 years respectively, and eventual citizenship. The first threshold was raised to £2 million in 2014, while the other two remain the same.

The decision to halt the visa comes following a review into the visa launched in May into applications since 2015, when the rules were tightened in the wake of concerns over foreign ‘dirty money’, enabling officials to seek information of source of funds.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: “The UK will always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to helping our economy and businesses grow”.

“However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system”.

“That is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”

Earlier this year, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich faced delays due to new checks when his Tier 1 (Investors Visa) came up for renewal, prompting renewed accusations between London and Kremlin.

Campaign group Transparency International previously expressed concerns about the possibility of money being laundered through the visa route.

In a report titled ‘Paradise Lost’, it called for steps to ensure that Britain does not become “a prime destination for corrupt individuals looking to invest or launder the proceeds of their illicit wealth, enjoy a luxury lifestyle and cleanse their reputations”.

Britain continues to be an attractive destination and a safe haven for global millionaires due to historical links and benefits of a stable, liquid economy, political stability and being largely free from government interference in private individual assets.

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 17:52 IST

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