Wealthy investors who purchase property in Dubai could be offered a back door into Europe through the sale of Moldovan passports.
The scheme which will be for those spending at least £1 million on their dream home, was branded as a ‘summer promotion’ and has been described by critics as a ‘serious risk’ to security.
The Kleindienst Group is selling properties as part of a ‘Heart of Europe’ development, just off the coast of Dubai.
As well as a sunny location, the company is also throwing in visa-free travel in the Schengen zone and has already had hundreds of inquiries from potential buyers, most of which are based in the wider Middle East.
The islands above are slowly making their way on the list of the super-rich and many investing in the new scheme may have pictured something like this before ploughing the money in
The scheme had advertised the homes to look like the above, but they have not yet been completed
However, this is the harsh reality of the development of the ‘Heart of Europe’ project from Kleindienst Group’s scheme
However, if you want to be part of the perks you will have to shell out a cool £1 million (5 million dirhams), as well as fees of over £31,000 in order to obtain citizenship of Eastern European country, Moldova.
According to The Times, Kleindienst has set up the Citizen-by-Investment scheme in partnership with Moldova, in an attempt to boost sales.
Despite not being an EU member, Moldova’s citizens still enjoy visa free access to 121 countries, including those in the passport-free Schengen area.
The state has a population of 3.5 million and applicants to the new scheme are not required to have previously visited the country.
The map above shows where Dubai is in relation to Moldova. The light blue area also shows where citizens paying for new scheme will have access to
The development doesn’t really scream ‘dream Dubai home’ but could offer residents a back door to Europe
Over 100 countries now offer such schemes, but the industry is unregulated – with the Investment Migration Council having previously set up a code of conduct for its members.
Despite the incentives which are being offered by the group, the European Commission has made clear that offering visa-free access in return for funds was incorrect.
A spokesperson told The Times: ‘The commission is closely monitoring the impact of the scheme launched in November as it could pose migratory and security risks.’
Elsewhere, German MEP and member of the European parliament’s special committee on financial crimes, Sven Giegold said the selling of passports was a ‘unacceptable security risk’.
Sven Giegold (pictured above) said the selling of passports was an ‘unacceptable security risk’
‘We need to endorse EU-wide minimum standards and ensure that all member states comply with them. Visas and naturalisation in Europe should depend on integration and residence, not on one’s wallet.’
This is while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned that such schemes could allow people to hide assets in offshore funds or accounts.
Others said the issues raised other concerns aside from ethical ones and a senior researcher at anti-corruption group Global Witness, Naomi Hirst said: ‘Beyond the obvious ethical concerns, this poses a serious security risk to both Moldova and the entire Schengen area to which it has visa-free access.’
She added: ‘We look forward to an end to the super-rich buying citizenship and access to Europe.’
In a report released in January, the European Commission raised concerns surrounding the security, tax evasion and corruption.
At present it is working to establish standards for CBI schemes and residency-by-investment programmes which 20 EU member states offer.
Under the scheme, Moldova will guarantee anonymity to those granted passports, with the citizens being able to onboard family members to the scheme for extra fees.
Moldova has said it is pursuing EU membership and that stateless people can also apply for the scheme.
Two agencies, based in Dubai, which have been accredited by the Moldovan government are working with Kleindienst, in order to process the applications which could take up to four months to be approved.
The company’s chairman said the majority of investors who have been interested in the properties hail from Saudi Arabia, China, Iraq and even Syria.
Kleindienst has built 4,000 holiday homes that are due for completion next year.
The company said: ‘We had similar offers before, giving away cars as gifts. We decided this year to provide passports.
‘Moldova is the most interesting passport for investors.’
Despite the issues which may arise due to the scheme one of the schemes agents, Paddy Blewer, highlighted that applicants would face strict due diligence checks before passports were handed out.
‘The Moldovan government knows who they are. The information on the application is shared with various organisations — Interpol, Europol and various other friendly intelligence services. It goes through various internal and international verification processes, including international banking systems.’