Moldova Suspends Citizenship by Investment Programme Used by Dubai Developer

The government of Moldova has temporarily suspended a controversial citizenship-by-investment scheme that has been recently used to entice customers by a Dubai developer.

The Moldova Citizenship-by-Investment (MCBI) programme made global headlines in June following Dubai developer Kleindienst Group’s announcement that investors in its Heart of Europe project on The World will be eligible for Moldovan citizenship.

As part of the offer, those who invest AED5 million ($1.36 million) into the project are eligible to apply for the MCBI, which is subject to a multi-stage due diligence procedure.

Late last week, however, Moldovan president Igor Dodon announced that the programme would be suspended following concerns about some of the companies involved.

One of the MCBI’s main service providers, global residency and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners, in a statement confirmed the suspension.

“The government has informed the MCBI office that it wishes to review the program and the various companies involved as service providers,” Henley & Partners said in a statement.

The Henley & Partners statement added that “all applications that have been officially accepted by the programme thus far will be fully processed to completion”.

“There will, however, be a temporary cessation of processing new applications so that the government can complete its evaluation and optimization process,” the statement added.

However, Henley & Partners – which has an office in Dubai – did not manage the MCBI applications from Kleindienst, which was handled by another accredited agent. Kleindienst has not divulged which company handles its MCBI applications.

When contacted by Arabian Business, Kleindienst Group declined to comment on the impact that the MCBI’s suspension will have on its previously announced offer.

Dr Juerg Steffen, the CEO of Henley & Partners, said that the company remains committed to Moldova and its people.

“We have invested significant time and capital in Moldova and believe that this investment will generate hundreds of millions of capital over time for the Moldovan economy that will enhance the lives of the Moldovan population.”

Criticism of the MCBI

Since its introduction last year, the MCBI programme has faced criticism from some who view the programme as a security risk.

“Beyond the obvious ethical concerns, this poses a serious security risk to both Moldova and the entire Schengen area to which it has visa-free access,” Naomi Hirst, a researcher at anti-corruption group Global Witness, was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. “We look forward to an end to the super-rich buying citizenship and access to Europe.”

Additionally, a European Commission spokesperson told the United Kingdom’s Times newspaper that “the commission is closely monitoring the impact of the scheme launched in November [Moldova’s] as it could pose migratory and security risks.”

Henley & Partners, for its part, has said that the programme will support the Moldovan economy with much needed capital, create a platform that will “amplify and enhance” Moldova’s voice on the world stage, and drive flows of foreign direct investment to the country.


Published: 23 July 2019

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