Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Ukraine crisis: Golden visa used by Russian oligarchs to live in Britain scrapped over corruption fears

Ukraine crisis: Golden visa used by Russian oligarchs to live in Britain scrapped over corruption fears

Oligarchs have had the world as their oyster, armed forces minister says, but if Putin continues to threaten the West they will find it "extraordinarily hard" to enjoy the trappings that come with it.

The golden visa scheme used by bmany Russian oligarchs to live in the UK is now closed to all new applicants, the Home Office has announced.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she made the decision to close it "immediately" on Thursday afternoon "following our review of all those granted" the Tier 1 investor visa.

The scheme allows foreigners who invest at least £2m in the UK to get a visa quickly, which leads to being offered residency.

Ms Patel said: "It has been under constant review and some cases had given rise to security concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption.

"While work has been done to reform the route in order to prevent abuse, the Home Office has acted to close it today

"This is just the start of our renewed crackdown on fraud and illicit finance."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this week that he was working on deterring Vladimir Putin's allies from benefitting from the UK economy as Russia masses troops on Ukraine's border.

The Home Office said it would be "making reforms" to the Innovator route, part of the incoming points-based immigration system, which it said will "provide an ambitious investment route which works more effectively in support of the UK's economy".

A government source earlier told Sky News the visa scheme was to be shut down this week over "security concerns".

Russia says some troops are going back to their bases but the West says more soldiers are being brought to the border.

What was the golden visa?

The Tier 1 investor visa was nicknamed the "golden visa" because it allows the extremely wealthy to get a visa for them and their family quickly and they are then free to work and study in the UK - or do neither.

Unlike other visa categories, there was no minimum amount of time visa holders had to spend in the UK to preserve their status, though it did lapse after a two-year absence.

It could also be extended indefinitely, provided the investment was maintained, and provided a direct route to UK permanent residency.

Most golden visa holders are from Russia and China.

A significant number of Russian oligarchs have bought homes in London - nicknamed Moscow-on-Thames by some - with many known to have permanent residency.

Many more Russian businesspeople have become oligarchs under Mr Putin than previous leaders, with the president allowing them to maintain their powers in exchange for explicit support for him.

The golden visa was set up in 1994 and re-launched in 2008 in its latest guise. In 2015 and 2019 requirements were tightened after it was found the scheme was at risk of being used for money laundering.

'Halting golden visa means stopping talent'

Several immigration lawyers said stopping the golden visa altogether was not the right choice because it would prevent "top-tier talent and investment" from coming to the UK.

Kelly Whiter, immigration law partner at Fladgate, said that instead of scrapping the visa, the Home Office should review the criteria and close off any weaknesses in the system while ensuring the rules are "strictly enforced".

"There is currently a lack of viable alternatives for these individuals, so the withdrawal of the Tier 1 Investor route, where many European countries are competing to attract such talent and investment, is likely to impact the UK's attractiveness moving forward significantly," she said.

Antonia Torr, partner and head of immigration services at Howard Kennedy, said closing the scheme has "all the hallmarks of a political move" because the Home Office changed the rules in 2019 so investors have to prove the source of their wealth as part of the application.

She added: "It is also noteworthy that the past few years have seen a decline in the number of Russians applying for this visa and so really it will be other nationalities who will be impacted by this decision.

"As a move to place pressure on Russia, this may not have the impact that the Secretary of State anticipates."

Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "It has taken international condemnation of our failures to stamp out Russian dirty money for the home secretary to act. But this must go further with a plan to stop illicit finance coming into the UK.

"While this is welcome, we need the full review published and an overall plan to stop illicit finance coming into the UK."

More Russian troops amassing at Ukrainian border

On Thursday morning, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told Sky News that Russia was placing more troops on its border with Ukraine, despite Moscow claiming they were pulling back.

As the UK, with NATO allies, tries to prevent an invasion, Mr Heappey said the UK was "entering into a new period of Russian relations... a new period of sustained competition between the West and Russia that probably will last for a generation or more".

As a result, he said parliament is bringing forward measures to "strengthen our ability to sanction Russian oligarchs and deny them financial gain in the UK".

Mr Heappey added: "The message to Moscow is that the price to Russia as a country, in terms of state-on-state sanctions but it's a reflection of Russian politics that this may matter more.

"The cost to the elite around President Putin and those oligarchs that own all of these vast companies and have had the world as their oyster for so long.

"If President Putin continues on the course of action that he's on then the UK will not be alone in making it extraordinarily hard for those individuals to enjoy the trappings of their wealth in the West."


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.