Prosecutors Open Investigation into "Golden Passports" Scheme

Prosecutors Open Investigation into "Golden Passports" Scheme

Sofia, February 7 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Supreme Administrative Prosecution Office has opened an investigation into the so-called "Golden Passports" scheme. That followed an alert by the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), the prosecution service said in a press release here on Monday.

MRF forwarded to the prosecution service an alert they had received about suspicious cases of Bulgarian citizenship or residence permits granted in exchange for investments. According to MRF Deputy Floor Leader Hamid Hamid, the alert named over 120 persons, mainly Chinese (including some working for the Chinese special services) and Russians, who had obtained residence permits in the 2015-2021 period under false pretense. All of them remitted an identical amount of money through a particular bank and were granted residence just by submitting photocopies of the statements of account, Hamid told a news briefing last week.

The prosecutors have in turn referred the matter to the State Agency for National Security, the Justice Ministry, InvestBulgaria Agency and the Migration Directorate to do their own probe. If irregularities are established, the prosecution service will alert the President as he is competent to revoke Bulgarian citizenship through naturalization.

On February 2, the National Assembly Legal Affairs Committee approved on first reading a bill abolishing the passports of convenience scheme.

Most foreigners who have bought Bulgarian "golden passports" have only deposited money in a bank in Bulgaria, which they can withdraw immediately after getting the proof of citizenship. Nobody has started a real business. Some have purchased government securities which, too, qualify as an eligible investment for naturalization purposes, and many of them have sold back the securities.

Bulgarian passports are attractive to non-EU citizens because they enable them to travel freely in the EU.

Source: Sofia