Consistent with economic sanctions against Russian Oligarchs and affiliated entities in the wake of that country’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to limit citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs in the European Union.
The vote calls on the European Commission to enact legislation to phase out CBI programs and establish strict regulations governing residence-by-investment (RBI) programs.
The Parliament is also calling for EU members to “reassess” all approved applications from Russian citizens going back few years to ensure that “no Russian individual with financial, business or other links to the Vladimir Putin retains his or her citizenship and residency rights”.
For decades, CBI programs have attracted Russia’s wealthy citizens, purchasing passports through real estate investments that are often secondary to the passports themselves.
While most countries with CBI/RBI programs do not disclose grants of citizenship or residency, available data suggests the program have proven most popular with Russian nationals.
In Cyprus, 19.6 percent of the people naturalized in 2018 were Russian, and in Malta, Russians constituted the third-most common nationals to naturalize in 2018.
Last month, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States committed to “limit the sale of citizenship… that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens…. of our countries and gain access to our financial systems”.
“We must ban the sale of EU passports and stop the flow of Russia’s dirty money into the EU” Vladimír Bilčík, MEP for Slovakia, stated during the debate.