Media find out how easily Putin’s cronies get UK Golden Visas
According to consultants, employees of the migration service are poorly trained and bypassing anti-corruption checks will be “easy-peasy”.
Companies that provide consulting services in obtaining UK investment visas help to hide compromising information from the client’s biography so that the application is approved by the migration service. The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches conducted an experiment, where a reporter introduced himself as a Hong Kong official, who wants to help his relatives in Russia and China in getting Golden Visas. He told the consultants that his uncle allegedly participated in money siphoning to offshore companies for people from the “inner circle of Vladimir Putin.” Other family members supposedly ran technology companies that supplied components for weapons used by the PRC army.
If this was not widely covered, I think that everything should go smoothly, said a representative of one of the companies where the journalists turned to. One of the interlocutors said that bypassing anti-corruption checks was “easy-peasy”. Migration officers are poorly trained and rely only on Google search, he added.
According to the consultants, they have already helped a family member Muammar Gaddafi, the son of a corrupt Thai government minister, an Egyptian accused of bribery, and an Eritrean citizen, who may have been involved in Angolan military deals, to obtain Golden Visas. In addition, they helped millionaires from Iran and Iraq, whose businesses were affected by Western sanctions.
Those who want to get a Golden Visa are expected to invest at least 2 million pounds (2.6 million dollars) in the UK. They must confirm the receipt of the income at least 2 years in advance or disclose the source of the funds. An Investor's Visa allows wealthy foreigners from non-EU countries to move to the UK with their families and expect to receive a residence permit in due time. It was especially popular with rich people from Russia and China. However, after Skripal poisoning in 2018, the Home Office of the United Kingdom tightened the rules for issuing Golden Visas.
In 2018, the British authorities refused to extend the visa to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The British authorities were preparing an inquiry asking the oligarch to disclose his sources of income as part of the visa extending procedure. Eventually, he got an Israeli visa instead.