A debate in the Westminster Hall of the House of Commons on Tuesday highlighted the problems faced by hundreds of British citizens who had acquired property in Goa legitimately and had started businesses, but were now at the centre of demands for bribery and inquiries.
Terming the situation as the ‘Goan equivalent of the mafia’, Conservative MP Tim Loughton narrated details of British citizens meeting all requirements before acquiring property and starting businesses in Goa, but were now told by officials that it had been acquired illegally.
Loughton said: “The problem seems to be quite widespread, with a number of British expats suffering such consequences. It has been suggested that there are in excess of 300 similar cases that we know about. Huge stress is being caused to people who legitimately went out to invest in businesses in Goa”.
“The situation is proving to be a nice little earner for the government in Goa, and various government officials are pretty brazen in demanding money to make the problem, which is of their making, supposedly go away. We seem to have the Goan equivalent of the mafia”.
Loughton named two officials of the Goa unit of the Enforcement Directorate in the context of corruption, and said he had repeatedly raised the matter with the Indian high commission, Goa chief minister and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Responding to the debate, Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood recalled that until 2007, rules governing purchases of property by foreigners in Goa were open to misinterpretation.