The EU has urged member states to cease schemes that provide citizenship or residency in return for investment – so-called ‘golden visas’.

MEPs in the European Parliament singled out Malta for shortcomings that allow wealthy individuals to gain an EU passport and access to the Schengen Area in return for an investment.

Malta’s ‘Citizenship by Investment’ program has attracted over 1,000 applicants since its introduction in 2014.

The European Parliament said on Thursday that it wanted the program “terminated immediately”.

These programmes pose “serious risks” to the fight against money laundering and “result in the actual sale of EU citizenship”, the Parliament said in a statement.

EU Member States to cease Golden Visas

Separately, on Tuesday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that recommended all member states “phase out” all such citizenship and residency schemes.

The resolution, “warns that some new phenomena are inherently opaque or facilitate opaqueness, allowing for tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning, and money laundering”.

All six Maltese MEPs voted against the resolution. Earlier this year, Malta’s finance minister Edward Scicluna, told PBI, he aimed to “clear up the misunderstanding” over Malta’s citizenship program: “We refuse 25% of the applicants and Malta’s process is transparent, unlike other countries. So all the names who obtain that citizenship are known and published.”

Earlier this month, the UK Home Office said that it was making amendments to its Tier 1 investor visa to toughen up on money laundering.

“Applicants will be required to prove that they have had control of the required £2 million for at least two years, rather than 90 days, or provide evidence of the source of those funds,” the Home Office said in a statement.