The Global Witness has stated that many European Union States are yet to put in place measures aimed at curbing money laundering and terrorist financing. Some of these include identifying the beneficial of registered companies and in which country, susceptibility in Golden Visa programs; these are known to allow criminals to acquire EU citizenship and launder money. Campaigner at Global witness also mentioned that member countries have agreed to take necessary measures but their slow action is becoming a concern. Previously in 2018, the European Commission has made compulsory public access to beneficial ownership registers in its 5th Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive, however, only 5 out of the 27 EU states have displayed full compliance with the directive. Others have only shown partial or no compliance.
Malta, Cyprus, and Portugal are among the countries who are yet to set up a functioning public registrar despite the high-profile scandals of suspicious people entering the EU through them. Additionally, Global Witness has mentioned in its Golden Visa report that Malta has been involved in numerous cases of Golden Visa fraud schemes. Cyprus is equally not exempted with the country president Nicos Anastasiades found in connection to a money-laundering operation of $4.6 million. Despite the country’s claim that it is working tirelessly to crack down Golden Visa fraud, the report has it that it has granted more than 4,000 passports reaching more than $6.6 billion from the Golden Visa program including citizenship granted to Jho Low, who masterminded Malaysia’s 1MDB wealth fund misappropriation.
The Global Witness Campaigner, Tina Mlinaric said that despite encouraging the European Commission to address the issue of misuse of the golden passports and visas, it has only put little effort, which is a big concern. As the Commission is prioritizing response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is a need to focus on the issues and ensure that it effectively combat them.