GREECE: Fraudulent Agencies Using ‘Golden Visa’ Program to Rip-Off Chinese Nationals, according to reports.

As published on schengenvisainfo.com/news, Wednesday 18 November, 2020.

Even though Greece has issued 5,504 Golden Visas for citizens of China, from 2014 until May 2020, a large number of the latter’s citizens have reported that they have been frauded by Greece’s Citizenship by Investment program.

Recently, VICE World News reported for a person who was a victim of fraud. When arriving in Greece, the person discovered that her property for which she had invested €290,000 was overpriced (its real value was €74,000) and located in a completely different zone of the town.

Besides, it had also been sold to another investor of China, (after she bought the property) at a lower price €250,000.

When she contacted her agent in Greece, to talk about the fraud, they asked her to show the documents, which she didn’t have, in order to prove that the apartment belonged to her. However, there are many similar accusations regarding Greece’s Golden Visa program frauds, which have been reported by Chinese nationals.

The number of Immigration Agencies in China, dedicated to these kinds of investments has been increasing since 2002, when the country’s government decided to loosen its regulations, according to the specialist news site, Invested Migration Insider (IMI), SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Authorities in Greece introduced the Golden Visa program in 2014. Since then the country has issued 7,550 visas through the Citizenship by Investment scheme, 5,504 to Chinese citizens.

Back in 2014, Greece’s authorities banned card payments for the Citizenship by Investment Scheme, after finding that cards had been used under fake names for illegal purposes, such as money laundering. However, soon after, the country’s government re-legalized the payment method.

The European Commission, in 2019, announced through a report that the four main risks of golden visa programs remain money laundering, the security of movement within the Schengen Zone, tax evasion as well as the lack of transparency during the visa application process.

At present, there are 18 countries worldwide that offer these types of programs, including eight states of the European Union Member States and the UK.

Greece’s Golden Visa is granted for internationals, providing they make an investment above €250,000.

However, the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy previously announced that the country issued only 368 Golden Visas for internationals, since the beginning of this year.

According to the ministry, the main reason that caused such a decrease in the number of Golden Visas granted for internationals is the current Coronavirus situation.