Investor visas to be suspended in crackdown of money laundering

Elias Hubbard
December 6, 2018

The Tier One investor visas, which offered non-European Union residents over three years entry in return for Sh256 million in investment in United Kingdom bonds, share capital or loan capital in UK companies, will be suspended from midnight on Friday.

The global super-rich hoping to live and invest in the United Kingdom will face new visa restrictions as part of Home Office reforms created to tackle organised crime and money laundering.

Its suspension will end after an audit process is introduced, ministers say.

More than 1,000 Tier 1 investor visas were granted in the year ending September 2018.

A £2m investment bought a visa and indefinite leave to remain after five years.

Earlier this year, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich faced delays due to new checks when his Tier 1 (Investors Visa) came up for renewal, prompting renewed accusations between London and Kremlin.

Golden visa applicants could apply three months before arriving in the United Kingdom and would get a decision within three weeks, having paid a £1,623 fee.

"I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system", Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said on Thursday.

Under future reforms for Tier 1 visas - expected to introduced next year - investors will have to provide audits of their finances which will be regulated United Kingdom auditing firms.

The suspending its top tier of investor visas, closing a route to permanent residence and British citizenship that's proved popular with the wealthy, including Russian oligarchs.

According to official figures, around 76 Indian millionaires have used this visa category to gain permanent settlement in Britain since 2009, with a peak of 16 Indian applicants in 2013 and seven past year.

Transparency International UK, a non-profit anti-corruption body, welcomed the crackdown and called on the government to take urgent action on individuals found to have invested suspicious wealth into the UK via the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme. The audits will have to be carried out by United Kingdom registered auditing firms.

The Home Office said in future there will be a provision for pooled investments, supported by the government, to back projects with a "clear economic benefit to the UK" such as supporting small and medium-sized businesses.

A government crackdown on the number of "gold-plated" oligarchs allowed into the United Kingdom will come into effect tomorrow, it has been reported.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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