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Report Flags Risks in Citizenship and Residency Investment Programs

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Citizenship and residency by investment (CBI/RBI) programs, often lauded for their potential economic benefits and contribution to national development, are now under scrutiny due to their apparent misuse by criminals and individuals with corrupt intentions. A collaborative effort between the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has resulted in a joint project aimed at examining irregularities associated with these programs. The focus extends to activities such as money laundering, asset concealment, and various other illicit practices.

Report Flags Risks in Citizenship and Residency Investment Programs

The joint report, stemming from this collaborative project, paints a nuanced picture of the vulnerabilities inherent in CBI/RBI schemes. While recognizing the potential for economic growth, FATF President T. Raja Kumar has stressed the importance of addressing the risks and vulnerabilities these programs pose. He notes that, despite their positive economic impact, these schemes can be exploited by criminals seeking to launder money, hide assets, and carry out further unlawful activities.

OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann has characterized the illicit exploitation of CBI/RBI programs as a "multi-billion-dollar business." Criminals reportedly leverage these programs to launder proceeds from corruption and fraud, evade justice, and gain access to third countries. This exploitation is seen as a significant challenge to public integrity, as well as tax and migration controls.


The joint report calls upon governments operating these programs to implement a range of safeguards. Recommendations include measures to ensure the programs are administered in a risk-sensitive manner. Such safeguards encompass due diligence procedures, transparency mechanisms, and integrity measures to curb potential misuse.

The report acknowledges that well-managed CBI/RBI schemes can indeed bring benefits to both host countries and participants. However, it emphasizes the need for these programs to be administered with a keen awareness of the associated risks and a commitment to mitigating them effectively.

The weaknesses identified in CBI/RBI schemes, as outlined in the report, include the ease with which criminals can move globally, maintaining anonymity through the use of shell companies in different jurisdictions. The involvement of intermediaries, collaboration with various government agencies, and potential misuse by professional facilitators are also highlighted as contributing factors to the vulnerabilities of these programs.

In conclusion, the joint FATF-OECD report seeks to guide policymakers and program operators in adopting measures that strike a balance between realizing the economic benefits of CBI/RBI schemes and effectively mitigating the risks associated with their potential misuse by criminals and the corrupt.


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