As many as 60 Indian millionaires have migrated to Britain since 2008 spending millions of pounds, putting India among the top 10 countries whose citizens have used a “golden visa” scheme and sparking suspicion of money laundering.
Anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International cautioned against the danger of foreign graft money entering Britain through the investors category of the Tier I visa, which targets “high networth individuals” who bring major investments in lieu of fast-track permanent residency in the UK.
“Our overall assessment is that this visa scheme, as it currently operates, presents a major money laundering risk for the proceeds of corruption entering the UK,” it said in a report released this week.
Britain continues to be an attractive destination and a safe haven for global millionaires because of a stable and liquid economy, political stability and minimal government interference in private individual assets.
The visa scheme has been mainly used by Chinese and Russian millionaires, but Home Office statistics reveal 60 Indians had been granted the visa till 2015.
The group says £3.15 billion had entered Britain through the visa scheme since its launch.
“There are strong prima facie grounds for concern that the … visa programme has been used as a tool to launder the proceeds of corruption, specifically large amount of wealth stolen from China and Russia,” the report says.
The risk of money laundering remained in the absence of “effective, upfront and transparent checks on Tier 1 visa applicants by UK authorities”, says the report titled Gold Rush: Investment Visas and Corrupt Capital Flows into the UK.
The minimum investment required under the category was £1 million until November 2014, but subsequently another million was added this February.