The EU has begun taking a closer look at Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs to ensure they are only attracting the investment of legally acquired funds. This move is designed to address renewed concerns about potential investors who might have connections to money laundering or other illegal activities.

A number of EU member countries have CBI programs, sometimes called “golden visa” programs. These CBI programs are designed to allow wealthy individuals to commit to specified levels of investment in a country in order to gain a second or third citizenship. CBI programs can be of huge assistance to investors who want to gain visa-free entry into key business centres and protect their financial futures from economic or political changes in their own countries.

The CBI programs offered by eight EU member states are expected to be of particular interest given heightened concerns about Russian money laundering or applicants with questionable sources of wealth.

The countries of Cyprus and Malta have received more attention due to the large proportion of applicants from Russia, the Middle East, and other regions that are considered to be at higher risk for money laundering and other corruption. Other countries with CBI programs include Austria, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Portugal.

The heightened attention by the EU is not expected to delay or otherwise interfere with qualified applicants seeking secondary citizenship through CBI programs. The additional scrutiny is simply expected to ensure the programs maintain their standards and continue to properly vet applicants.