The European Commission has proposed a suspension of a visa-free travel agreement with the pacific archipelago of Vanuatu because of the nation’s scheme offering passport/citizenship to foreigners in exchange for a minimum investment of $US130,000.
The proposal was announced on Wednesday local time. If the EU states back it, it will be the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on a country for running “golden passport” schemes.
The commission has repeatedly warned the scheme could pose security and money-laundering risks.
Under the scheme, foreigners can obtain Vanuatu citizenship and a passport in exchange for a minimum investment of $US130,000 ($178,000).
That, in turn, gives them visa-free access to the EU under a visa-waiver agreement the country has with the 27-nation bloc.
The commission has proposed suspending visa-free travel for all holders of Vanuatu passports released since May 2015, when the investor program started to operate in earnest in the country.
The EU Commission would lift the moratorium if the Vanuatu government properly amended the program.
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