Golden visa scheme: What was it and how it led to 'dirty money' in the UK

The UK Government have finally closed their ‘golden visa’ scheme amid claims it was increasingly being used for money laundering and other illicit activity.

Home secretary, Priti Patel, announced in a statement that the scheme would end immediately to help stop “corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities”.

Patel told reporters the UK has “zero tolerance for abuse of our immigration system”.

The abuses are not low level fraud. Billions of dirty pounds are suspected to have been washed in London alone.

This comes as an anti-corruption watchdog Spotlight found half of the 6,312 golden visas approved, were given to those reviewed for “possible national security risks”.

The scheme, which started in 2008, remained open despite Parliament’s joint intelligence and security committee Saying two years ago that it welcomed “oligarchs with open arms” and “It offered ideal mechanisms by which illicit finance could be recycled through what has been referred to as the London ‘laundromat'”.

“Russian influence in the UK is ‘the new normal’, and there are a lot of Russians with very close links to Putin who are well integrated into the UK business and social scene, and accepted because of their wealth. This level of integration – in ‘Londongrad’ in particular,” the committee said.

What was the golden visa scheme?

The golden visa scheme, or the ‘ Tier 1 investor visa ‘ Allowed those with large wealth to effectively become British residents.

If you had at least £2m of investment funds and a UK bank account, you could apply for residency rights with your family.

The ease at which applicants would be granted leave to remain in Britain, appeared to be determined by how much money they had to invest.

For those with £2m, residency rights took five years, while those with £10m had to wait just two years.

Now the scheme has ended, investors will be asked to apply for an innovator visa with an “investment strategy that can show genuine job creation and other tangible economic impacts”.

Labor MP and member of the foreign affairs committee, Chris Bryant, said the UK “remains the soft underbelly for dodgy Russian money,” and claimed the golden visa scheme was a “gold-plated invite to launder money in the UK”.

Over a seven year period between June 2008 and April 2015, around 700 Russian millionaires were granted these visas.

Leave a Comment