Bulgaria has ended its controversial “golden passport” scheme offering EU member state citizenship in exchange for a substantial investment, which Brussels has criticized.
The scheme will facilitate the people who want to obtain citizenship in Bulgaria by investing a minimum of 500,000 euros ($550,000).
The beneficiaries were primarily from Russia, China and the Middle East.
Bulgaria’s new government, which has made fighting corruption a key priority, already urged parliament to stop issuing such passports in January.
The decision on Thursday by the Bulgarian MPS comes after granting the “golden passport” was again criticized by the European Parliament in light of Western sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decision by Bulgarian MPS on Thursday comes after the awarding of “golden passports” was again condemned by the European Parliament in the light of Western sanctions targetting Russian oligarchs over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this month, MEPs repeated their call on Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus to scrap both “golden passports” and “golden visas”.
The European Commission has repeatedly called for the abolition of such schemes because they incentivize corruption and money laundering.
As part of the decision, MPs also authorized a full review of all passports granted since the scheme was launched in 2013.
According to the justice ministry, about 100 such passports have been awarded.
Last year, the previous interim administration flagged concerns about possible irregularities in 47 cases.
Despite the decision, there will still be the option of acquiring a residence permit under the scheme.
Malta has also said it would suspend granting “golden passports” to Russians and Belarusians until further notice following the invasion of Ukraine.
According to the European Parliament, at least 130,000 people obtained a “golden passport” or a “golden visa” in the bloc between 2011 and 2019, generating 21.8 billion euros ($23.9bn) for the countries concerned.