Irish ‘golden visa’ scheme shut down over fears of money laundering, tax evasion and extreme difficulty of doing “due diligence” on applicants

A review of a controversial golden visa scheme found that 90 per cent of applicants were from China with “no identifiable link” to Ireland and were being signed up through agents who specialised in finding people for the immigration scheme.

Secret memos from the Department of Justice said that the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) had an “elevated risk profile”, that such schemes carried the risk of being used by individuals engaged in money laundering and tax evasion, and that it was very challenging to do “due diligence” on applicants.

Senior officials warned that granting a visa to a person as part of the IIP scheme could be taken as state confirmation of an “individual’s bona fides” or an endorsement of any investment they made in Ireland.

The records, release of which has long been disputed by the Department of Justice, said there was “an underlying and strategic reputational risk” for Ireland through continued operation of the scheme to raise funds.

The Department of Justice had originally refused access to the records in their entirety saying that release could impact on the security of the state.

However, they were ordered to release a redacted version of the memos following an appeal by Right to Know to the Information Commissioner.