OECD blacklists 21 countries running high-risk golden passport schemes

The OECD has put 21 jurisdictions offering ‘golden passport or visa schemes’ on a blacklist stating that those specific schemes threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion.

Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a report released by the Paris-based think tank.

The 21 jurisdictions have schemes that, according to the OECD, give wealthy individuals access to low income tax on their global assets but do not require them to spend much time in the jurisdiction.

The list followed the OECD’s analysis of over 100 residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes offered by jurisdictions committed to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

Cyprus offers two types of schemes: citizenship by investment, naturalisation of investors by and residence by investment.

According to the OECD the schemes offered by Cyprus and 20 other countries “potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.”

“Potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme,” the report said.

The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding £2.3bn citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity.

Concern is growing among political leaders, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the schemes are open to abuse by criminals and sanctions-busting business people.

The practice of issuing “golden visas” isn’t restricted to these blacklisted nations alone. In a conjoint report, Transparency International and Global Witness stated that the UK, Spain and Portugal benefited the most from selling residencies within Europe.

Noting the key link between golden visas and corruption, the report stated that the scheme had been used to allow in many residents of China, Russia and the Middle East through countries in the EU.

The full list of blacklisted nations:

– Antigua and Barbuda

– Bahamas

– Bahrain

– Barbados

– Colombia

– Cyprus

– Dominica

– Grenada

– Malaysia

– Mauritius

– Monaco

– Montserrat

– Panama

– Qatar

– Saint Kitts and Nevis

– Saint Lucia

– Seychelles

– Turks and Caicos Islands

– United Arab Emirates

– Vanuatu

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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