Wednesday 18 September 2019

Financial risks to form part of cash-for-visa investigation

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Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

THE financial and reputational risks associated with the State's 'cash-for-visa' scheme will be probed as part of a two-phase review of the programme that has attracted more than €500m from overseas investors.

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), which an internal report for the Department of Justice says is "now at a crucial stage of development", has been mired in controversy, with a recent warning that the State will immediately revoke permissions if investors are found to have funded their applications with debt.

The DoJ met individuals and specialist companies after some investors revealed their applications were debt-funded and after reports that shell companies were offering loans in support of projects associated with the scheme.

The IIP, which is dominated by Chinese applicants, grants residency visas to those who invest a minimum of €1m into Government-approved schemes, including bonds, endowments and enterprises.

Applicants can also apply to invest via a Reit with a minimum €2m investment.

The IIP has been changed on a number of occasions and the terms of reference for an independent, two-phase review have now been published.

Phase one will consider and review the overall policy, current objectives and future options. Phase two will consider governance and oversight arrangements, and the associated resource options and risks, "including financial and reputational", associated with the operation of the IIP. Terms of reference for external review include taking into account overall economic position of the State, OECD reports and commentary, and up-to-date analysis of such schemes generally.

Irish Independent

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