New Democracy Will Sell Greek Citizenship to Rich Foreigners

FILE - Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Spata, near Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – Going past the sale of Golden Visas that come with a residency permit, Greece’s new ruling New Democracy said it wants to lure rich foreigners by offering them citizenship if they invest at least 2 million euros ($2.2 million) and move here for good.

While the visas allow wealthy foreigners to buy property but not live in it – which has seen those from China, Russia and other countries scooping up Greek apartments and turning them into short-term rentals – citizenship gives investors a Greek passport.

To get it though, part of their investment must be buying a home that costs at least 500,000 euros ($550,710) and paying at least 50,000 euros ($55,071) in annual maintenance costs, apparently whether it’s needed or not.

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, wealthy foreigners and investors are looking for other alternatives in Europe, said Kathimerini in a report on the scheme that also includes steps to vet applicants for fraud.

The Golden Visa program – also in effect in Greece – has seen accusations in a number of countries that offer it that it’s open to infiltration by criminals looking to launder money and hide their cash in foreign countries.

To get citizenship, proof of purchase of buying the required limit of real estate must be shown, paid in full with crossed check or bank transfer into the account of the beneficiary through an account with a Greek bank or a credit institution supervised by the Bank of Greece.

Without explaining why, if it could turn out to be a cash cow, the government reportedly will set a cap on the sale of citizenships at 200 annually while even Greeks in the Diaspora will continue to have to wait up to two years and longer to get dual citizenship even if their grandparents were born in Greece and they can provide documents in a program open to corruption and bribery.

The government is also examining the prospect of offering incentives to individuals and legal entities to choose Greece as where their income will be taxed instead of their home countries and as New Democracy is trying to roll back taxes hiked by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.

The new incentives will be added to the already existing Golden Visa program which was introduced in 2013. That offers a five-year residence permit to non-EU citizens who buy property in Greece worth at least 250,000 euros ($275,355).) In March, the Golden Visa program was extended to also include the purchase of stocks and bonds among other means.

3 Comments

  1. … as opposed to Greek leftists that let in hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants, some of them rapists, terrorists, prostitutes, criminals, and all of them violating our borders illegally. Instead of putting them in jail and deporting them… they open “welcome centers”!

    And if any Greek attempts to protect our own borders… Greek leftists ranting ‘racism” and “fascism”. With Greeks like this, who support the invasion of their own homeland, who needs enemies.
    .

  2. If Greece decides that it wants to use a Citizenship by Investment program as an economic development tool, that is the prerogative of Greek politicians. However, if they do decide to do such a program, the difference between success and catastrophic failure comes down to a) pricing; b) due diligence screening; c) simplicity of options (both to explain to potential buyers AND to administer); and d) speed and consistency of processing.

    If the reports are true, then it looks like the Greek government is going to make the classic blunder of many previous politicians who tried to bring in such a program. They are ignoring the market needs and competition and only focussing on their own “wish list”. When Turkey did this and priced their original program at 1million USD they sold exactly ZERO. When they lowered the price in the face of the marketplace they sold 1000s and generated massive revenue. As an EU country, Greek Citizenship by Investment definitely will command a higher price than Turkey, BUT must make the offering more straightforward.

    In closing, if not done right, Greek politicians will pay the local political price of “selling citizenship” with reaping the offsetting economic benefits.

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