Debt-funded in­vestor visas face crack­down

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Dearb­hail Mcdon­ald

THE Depart­ment of Jus­tice says it will im­me­di­ately re­voke per­mis­sions un­der the State’s Im­mi­grant In­vestor Pro­gramme (IIP) if in­vestors are found to have funded their ap­pli­ca­tions with debt.

The IIP 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, which must be held for at least three years from the date of pur­chase.

Last month the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) was com­pelled to clar­ify that a loan pro­vided to the ap­pli­cant for the pur­pose of mak­ing an IIP ap­pli­ca­tion will not be con­sid­ered an ap­pro­pri­ate source of fund­ing. The clar­i­fi­ca­tion arose af­ter cer­tain ap­pli­cants re­vealed that their ap­pli­ca­tions had been funded by debt — the in­vestors be­lieved that they were en­ti­tled to do so.

More than €500m has been in­vested via the IIP, which is dom­i­nated by Chi­nese na­tion­als. In re­cent weeks the Ir­ish Nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice (INIS) has met 45 in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions to stress that ap­pli­ca­tions can­not be funded by loans.

The INIS is sep­a­rately re­view­ing the source of funds on ap­pli­ca­tions where debt fund­ing may not have been dis­closed. To­mor­row the DOJ will pub­lish the terms of ref­er­ence of a two-part re­view of the con­tro­ver­sial ‘cash-forvisa’ scheme.

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