British government temporarily halts ‘golden visa’, enables only genuine investors

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An anti-corruption campaigners has on Thursday, called upon to temporarily suspend a “golden visa” scheme – a decision by British Home office, that enables Indian and foreign investors to invest in the United Kingdom and gives a route to its holders for settlement in the UK.

According to British news reports, it has suspended the Tier-1 (investors) visa until the UK doesn’t announce new safeguards rules into the application of visa in 2019. It has been suspended over the concerns over organized crime and money-laundering.

According to Transparency International reports, in 2008 launched visa, Tier-1 has granted over 3000 investors till September 2018, investors mostly from China and Russia – individuals and also their families, and also included 82 Indian millionaires who had applied for this investor visa between 2008 and March 2018.

This scheme was opened to those investors who can at least invest £2 million in UK government, business or shares, which enables them a faster route for the settlement in the country. However, those investors who invest over £10 million were able for a settlement for two years, whereas those who invest £5 million can apply for a settlement for three years.

Director of policy- Transparency International UK Duncan Hames said, “Property and other high-end sectors are increasingly accused of allowing dirty money into the U.K. but it’s astonishing to think that the U.K.’s own visa scheme can be used to launder corrupt money into the U.K. Once obtained, ‘Golden’ visas can also open the door to channel much larger sums of stolen cash into our financial system.”

New safeguards rule states: “Any new investor visa system must be water-tight, and subject to independent checks to ensure it does not become a red carpet for those who seek to use the U.K. as a safe haven for their ill-gotten gains.”

The decision by UK government to halt a visa is followed by a 2015 visa launched application, when in the wake of “dirty money” concern, the rules were strictly tightened, and enabling information of funds sources to officials.

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

Nokes further said, “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.”

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