The European Union has laid down several new guidelines for countries offering citizenship by investment programmes. These new guidelines must be adopted to implement robust practices to ensure enhanced safety and security. This significant development was made clear following a recent meeting held between leaders of Caribbean countries and EU officials in Brussels, Belgium, said a source in EU Commission in Brussels.
The protection of the European region is the top priority for the EU. In a bid to increase safety, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, will be leading an oversight committee to monitor the overall operations of these third-nation programmes over six months.
He explained the European Union’s stringent guidelines, which would be suggested to nations offering CBI Programmes. The guidelines are as follows:
- Implement robust due diligence: Due diligence must be conducted on each applicant by reputed and legal international due diligence firms based in top-tier countries such as the EU, US and UK.
- Implement mandatory interviews: Mandatory interviews of all CBI applicants must be conducted. These interviews could be held through a trusted online digital platform or in person (if possible).
- Enhancing security measures: No official documents related to alternative citizenship or passports should be sent to the investors/new citizens through postbox (mail) after the citizenship is granted.
- Increase of investment thresholds: The EU has said that the investment amount must be increased up to US $200,000 (minimum) for a single applicant under the donation option and US $400,000 (minimum) for real estate investment options.
- Investment must reach host country: The countries offering CBI programmes must properly monitor the flow of funds and verify it against stringent money laundering processes. This will include the provision that the investment funds must be directly transferred to the host nation under any situation and must not be diverted into accounts in any other country.
- Abolition of promotional material of passports: All promotional material of passports must be repealed from these third nations showing the benefits of visa-free access to the European Union or other visa free country.
These guidelines have been laid down by the EU with the primary focus of ensuring that these nations must execute exceptional standards in their CBI programmes. The source added that the EU Commission had sent a strict message to countries providing economic citizenship and urged them to have a strong mechanism to protect the EU and its citizens.
Furthermore, the Commission has also highlighted that the principles are necessary to maintain the integrity of these programmes. An enhanced focus on due diligence, rigorous handling of citizenship documents and stringent investment procedures, among others, will make these programmes compliant with international standards and laws.
It is worth noting that the specialized committee spearheaded by Ylva Johansson will make sure that the operations of these CBI programmes align with the specified principles by the EU and will also work to eliminate any type of misuse or abuse, said Associates Times.
- Strict due diligence on CBI applicants
The principle of enhanced and robust due diligence on each applicant of the CBI Programme means a comprehensive scrutiny process. This will enable the countries to eliminate risks related to the fraud, money laundering or any other illegal activities which may hamper the EU or any other nation.
Under strict due diligence, a reputable third-party due diligence firm will conduct an in-depth examination of the applicant’s history, financial dealings, money sources and overall credibility.
As per the guidelines by EU Commission, this due diligence will only be taken into consideration if conducted by highly reputed firms based in the EU, US or UK. It is necessary for these companies to be reputable and independent in order to provide an objective, expert, and thorough evaluation, which improves the credibility and safety of the CBI programmes.
- Mandatory Interviews of CBI Applicants
This principle signifies that the countries offering CBI programmes must conduct necessary interviews with each applicant. This is significant for getting a more in-depth knowledge about the investor and his intentions/motives to apply for alternative citizenship and to provide an additional layer of inspection to the overall application process.
Notably, these interviews could be conducted in person (if possible) or through online platforms, making them accessible despite of geographical restrictions.
Recording these interviews helps authorities keep a detailed record for future reference or investigation. This ensures that the application process is transparent, accountable, and thorough in every aspect.
- Enhancing security measures by prohibiting mailing citizenship documents
This principle related to the complete prohibition of sending official citizenship documents or passports through mail to new citizens will enhance security measures. As per the EU Commission, dispatching sensitive documents can potentially expose them to theft, loss or fraud.
Through this principle, the EU aims to safeguard the sanctity of citizenship and lessen the possibility of misuse of identity. The EU said that the new citizens must get these documents through verified means such as in person or the government could find any other reliable alternative.
- Increasing investment thresholds
The principle of increasing the amount of investments says that the minimum amount of investing through donation must be raised to atleast US $200,000 for single applicant, while for applications made through the real estate option, the minimum investment must be US$400,000.
This increased financial requirement ensures that CBI programmes attract only those high net worth individuals with a significant capacity to contribute economically to the host nation. This emphasizes how important it is for applicants to be fully committed to becoming a citizen. It shows that citizenship is not something that can be bought but rather a significant and sincere connection between the applicant and the country they are seeking to join.
- Strict monitoring of funds via direct transfer of funds to host nation
This principle stresses the direct transfer of the investment amount to the host nation without being diverted to accounts in other countries. It strives to assure high standards of traceability, transparency and legitimate usage of funds in the CBI programmes.
This principle helps the host nation to improve its economic development along with a guarantee of direct inflow of funds. It also prevents possible misuse of the programme for illegal activities.
- Banning all citizenship promotions done through visa-free access benefits
This principle underlines the present scenario of marketing and promotion of CBI programmes. It states that the promotion of such citizenship by investment programmes must not be based on visa-free advantages to the EU, UK or any other nation.
This principle asks the countries to shift their focus from just investing in alternative citizenship for the mere advantage of global mobility.
The EU says that these recommendations will serve as guiding parameters for nations providing such programmes, promoting stringent measures which will balance the economic advantages with ethical and legal obligations.