The controversial issues of so-called “golden passports” have been backed by the MPs in Bulgaria to scrapped the passports. The Lawmakers voted in favor of two amendments that will prevent foreigners from acquiring EU citizenship in exchange for large investments.
The European Union has again condemned the issuing of “golden passports” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The golden passports have long been criticized as links to corruption and money laundering. From 2013 till date, wealthy foreign citizens have invested almost one million levs (€511,000) in Bulgaria to obtain permanent residency. They could also obtain Bulgarian citizenship for another investment of €511,000.
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The new Bulgarian government which had pledged to root out corruption announced its intention to abolish the “golden passport” scheme. Foreign citizens could still obtain residency in exchange for investments despite the new amendments.
Bulgaria’s security agency will now investigate citizens that have already received residency or citizenship rights and more than 130,000 people are believed benefited from EU “golden passports” between 2011 and 2019, in exchange for investments of over €21.8 billion.
In Bulgaria, over 100 foreigners mainly from Russia, China, and the Middle East — had obtained a “golden passport” since 2013. Earlier this month, the Maltese government announced it would be suspending the “golden passports” for Russian and Belarussian nationals.