Friday, September 27, 2019

Open Borders for the Rich

The number of wealthy foreigners investing at least £2m in the UK in exchange for a “golden visa” has risen to a five-year high.  Home Office data shows that just four applicants had their visas denied.

Naomi Hirst, an anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, said,  “At a time when the EU is moving to crack down on the sale of citizenship and residency, it’s worrying that the UK is once again opening its arms to high risk but wealthy individuals. It opens the question as to whether, post-Brexit, the UK will be looking to pick up the customers that EU member states could be forced to reject.”

One person known to have entered the UK with tier-1 visas was Zamira Hajiyeva, the woman subject to the UK’s first McMafia-style “dirty money” unexplained wealth order who spent £16m in Harrods. Hajiyeva is the wife of a banker jailed for defrauding Azerbaijan’s national bank out of hundreds of millions.

Another was Madiyar Ablyazov – the son of Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakhstan politician accused of embezzling $5bn (£4bn) and lying to a court about the scale of his vast fortune, including a £17m mansion on The Bishops Avenue in London.

Some 11,000 people have entered the UK since the golden visa scheme was first introduced in 2008, mostly from Russia and China.

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