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The UK government has said it is scrapping so-called ‘golden visas’ offering residency to wealthy foreign investors amid security concerns and renewed calls for the UK to review its ties with Russia

LONDON — The British government said on Thursday it was scrapping so-called “golden visas” offering residency to wealthy foreign investors amid security concerns and renewed calls for the UK to review its ties with Russia.

The Home Office said the Tier 1 investor visa route gave “corrupt elites the opportunity to gain access to the UK”. Corruption.”

The visa route, which was introduced in 2008, offered residency to people investing £2 million ($2.7 million) or more in the UK and allows their families to join them. Individuals could then apply for permanent residency in as little as two years depending on the amount invested.

The system will be closed to all new applicants of all nationalities with immediate effect, the government said.

Many of those granted such visas were Russians, and critics have long questioned whether the policy facilitates money laundering in the UK, as applicants are not sufficiently background checked. Concerns over Moscow’s reach in the UK have intensified as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the move was part of the government’s crackdown on illicit finance.

“I want to make sure the British people have faith in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and funnel dirty money through our cities,” Patel said in a statement.

A 2018 report by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee warned that officials could endanger national security by ignoring what they called Russian “dirty money” in London.

Asked on Thursday about the crackdown on Russian money in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to impose “tough sanctions” against Russia.

“Obviously, it is time to impose severe sanctions against the Russian regime, against big Russian companies – organizations of strategic importance. And also by ensuring that we stop fundraising by Russian companies in the London financial markets,” Johnson said.

ABC News

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