Media report: Affluent Chinese cash in on Greek golden passports

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
Media report: Affluent Chinese cash in on Greek golden passportsIt takes only 250,000 euros ($272,062) in investments to qualify

While the New Democracy government is going about the business of trying to kick start a slow recovery from a nearly decade-long economic and austerity crisis, it’s raking in cash by selling residency permits and European Union passports to rich foreigners.

Lining up for the bargain – it takes only 250,000 euros ($272,062) in investments to qualify, queues of the wealthy and super-rich eager to get their hands on documents allowing free travel in the bloc are coming from all over, including Turkey and Russia.

But especially from China, whose government has been making inroads into the EU through the port of Piraeus, operated by the Chinese maritime operator COSCO, and with the Bank of China opened a branch and other Chinese companies looking to put money into Greece.

It’s been the sale of the so-called Golden Passports that have helped propel the rebound, despite criticism the program is open to money laundering and a criminal activity conduit, as well as investors scooping up properties to qualify and then turning them into short-term rentals.

Through sites such as Airbnb, that has nearly emptied whole Greek neighborhoods of residents forced to leave so their apartments can be used for the transient renters, changing the character of areas that brought them there in the first place, and also driving up rents.

In a feature in The Los Angeles Times, reporter Maria Petrakis illustrated how the visas were being used by rich Chinese, especially through the real estate sector that is an easy way to hit the level needed to get one.

In downtown Athens, a former bank branch near Parliament, in Syntagma Square, has been turned into the offices of V2 Development, a real estate development company showing off properties for sale to get the golden ticket.

That has helped the sector recover as well from a crushing crisis that saw people unable to give away properties that had become almost valueless but taxed at high levels at the same time by governments desperate for cash.

The sale of so-called Golden Visas that give rich foreigners residency permits and European Union passports has been big business for Greece with 2,008 more sold in 2019 through Dec. 1, data from Enterprise Greece showed.

The visas are given to the wealthy who invest at least 250,000 euros ($277,714) in properties while those in the Diaspora with Greek heritage who don’t have that kind of money have to wait two years or more for residency permits or dual citizenship.

Greece has sold off 4,059 Golden Visas since the program began in 2013 with the numbers soaring recently, especially to rich Chinese and Russians.

Golden Visas were given to 4,129 Chinese investors as links between the country have gotten closer, drawing a warning from US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt that China is trying to buy undue influence in Greece and using the country as an entry to the European Union.

From early September to early December, Greece issued 742 new five-year residence permits to non-EU investors and their families, with 90 percent (665 permits) going to Chinese buyers.

Bank of Greece data showed a 94 percent annual rise in inflows of money for buying property in January-June 2019 to 736 million euros ($817.59 million) as the New Democracy government is also wooing more of the rich by offering a flat 100,000-euro ($111,085.50) if they make Greece their residence at least six months a year and place to declare their annual taxes.

Some 13,075 Chinese nationals and family members received residency in 2019, compared with 1,342 Turks and 1,000 Russians, the paper said. “If it weren’t for the Chinese I wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” said Vaggelis Kteniadis, 47, the owner of V2. “The Chinese are tired of being forbidden, not having options.”

Now there’s a worry that the coronavirus that began in China and spreading – Greece went so far as to temporarily close its visa office in China, stopping the flow of tourists from there which have been a big boon and limiting their ability to buy the visas.

“It’s logical that sales will be affected until the virus is contained, but afterward it will be much busier than before,” Kteniadis said. “They will want to avoid living through similar incidents in the future.”

Greece sells itself cheap. Cyprus requires a minimum 2-million euro ($2.18 million) investment, but the bargain-basement Golden Visas have proved a big lure for people with so much money that 250,000 euros are pocket change.

It’s brought a boom for the residential property market that the paper said fell 40 percent in value during the crisis, the biggest drop in the EU. And while there aren’t specific figures, the 6,304 primary permits – 70 percent to Chinese – will bring in 1.5 billion euros ($1.63 billion.)

Kteniadis said the vetting process is strong enough. “These people are millionaires but have to sign forms and prove they’re not elephants each time they travel,” Kteniadis said. “It’s humiliating,” if not as difficult a process for Greeks of the Diaspora to get residency or citizenship.

“Whoever wants to invest in Greece this way, they are welcome,” said Kteniadis whose company has offices in three Chinese cities. “We lost 30% of our GDP during the crisis. I didn’t see too many people interested in fixing that.”

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

 


Tornos
  1. 08/04 21:20

    AP: Greek authorities send out mobile units to carry out COVID-19 tests

  2. 08/04 21:15

    Greek PM wishes British counterpart Boris Johnson speedy recovery

  3. 08/04 20:57

    Americans caught in Greek lockdown advised to apply for an extension to their stays

  4. 08/04 20:52

    Experts: Measures to block coronavirus spread have reduced seismic 'noise' in Greece

  5. 08/04 20:39

    OTE Telecom Group donates 110 beds and monitors to support Greek hospital ICUs

  6. 08/04 20:30

    The Guardian: Turkey’s Covid-19 infection rate growing fastest in the globe

  7. 08/04 20:19

    AP: China’s coronavirus pandemic epicenter Wuhan ends 76-day lockdown

  8. 08/04 20:04

    ECB relaxes collateral rules and accepts junk-rated Greek sovereign debt

  9. 08/04 19:58

    Eurogroup over Covid-19 recovery plan to continue on Thursday

  10. 08/04 19:47

    SETE chief Yiannis Retsos: €1.5 - 2 billion needed to restart Greek tourism

  11. 08/04 19:35

    Henry Ford Health System to lead national study of drug against the coronavirus

  12. 08/04 16:26

    New shelter in Athens to provide decent living conditions for the homeless

  13. 08/04 15:29

    Greek PM briefs President on health crisis and measures to support economy

  14. 08/04 15:03

    Twitter chief Jack Dorsey pledges $1 billion to fight coronavirus pandemic

  15. 08/04 11:42

    Greek Finance Minister: Differences at Eurogroup to be bridged by Thursday

  16. 07/04 21:58

    European Union greenlights €2 billion COVID-19 assistance for Greece

  17. 07/04 20:10

    Reuters: Eurogroup hopes to agree on half a trillion euro coronavirus rescue package

  18. 07/04 20:06

    Prime Minister sends message to Greeks living in the United States

  19. 07/04 20:00

    Food stores and supermarkets open in Greece on Sunday due to Easter

  20. 07/04 19:24

    Symbolic rallies of hospital staff in Greece on occasion of World Health Day

  21. 07/04 19:17

    Bloomberg lauds Greece for swiftly adopting measures to block coronavirus

  22. 07/04 19:12

    Greek Orthodox services of Easter behind closed doors in the US

  23. 07/04 19:07

    Greek microbiologist forecasts COVID-19 break during summer (video)

  24. 07/04 19:02

    The biggest and brightest supermoon of the year in Greece on Tuesday

  25. 07/04 18:57

    Lowest number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Greece since March 12

  26. 07/04 18:47

    SNF launches Global Relief Initiative of $100 million to combat COVID-19

  27. 07/04 16:52

    Greek Finance Minister calls for European solidarity against coronavirus

  28. 07/04 16:38

    Greek Prime Minister holds video conference ahead of Eurogroup

  29. 07/04 13:52

    Archbishop Elpidophoros of America encourages the faithful to donate blood

  30. 07/04 13:32

    Deutsche Bank on Covid-19: How can tourist destinations attract travelers this summer

  31. 07/04 10:04

    Tour operator in Athens supports unemployed guides in COVID-19 period

  32. 07/04 01:03

    Graphs record Greece’s impressively low rate of Covid-19 cases and deaths

  33. 07/04 00:51

    Erdogan's new palace under construction despite Covid-19 and court ruling

  34. 07/04 00:48

    COVID-19 quarantine tightens around Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos

  35. 07/04 00:39

    Prime Minister congratulates EKAV ambulance service in Greece

  36. 07/04 00:36

    Coronavirus cases in Cyprus drop 33% following lockdown

  37. 07/04 00:30

    Greek stocks soared 8.46 pct on Monday following European markets

  38. 07/04 00:05

    Herbs and fruits can boost your immune system

  39. 06/04 23:11

    International Air Transport Association releases 2019 Airline Safety Report

  40. 06/04 22:23

    Greek government bans religious services of all faiths on April 12-20

  41. 06/04 19:21

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson given oxygen at London hospital

  42. 06/04 18:20

    Full restrictions lifted for first two villages on lockdown in northern Greece

  43. 06/04 16:35

    Water Airports CEO: Greece could be at the top of travel destinations

  44. 06/04 15:30

    UNWTO message: Stay home today and #travel tomorrow

  45. 06/04 13:12

    Coronavirus compensation checks coming for Greek workers and enterprises

  46. 05/04 20:28

    AP: Trump resists national shutdown and leaves it up to each state

  47. 05/04 20:12

    Covid-19 poll: 50% of Greeks believe they will contract the virus

  48. 05/04 15:09

    Curfews at Patras and Volos ports as Covid-19 cases in Greece rise to 1,613

  49. 05/04 15:05

    WHO: More than 95% who died of Coronavirus in Europe were over 60

  50. 05/04 14:48

    FM: Economic diplomacy has proved valuable in these difficult times

  51. 05/04 13:00

    Minister: Target is for university exams to be held close to their normal dates

  52. 05/04 11:54

    AP: Poorer New York City neighborhoods hit hardest by coronavirus

  53. 04/04 15:06

    Middle East and Africa air carriers' revenue losses soar

  54. 04/04 15:04

    Greek enterprises demonstarte solidarity in the fight against coronavirus pandemic

  55. 04/04 14:59

    Air cargo demand decreases in February as COVID-19 takes hold

  56. 04/04 14:51

    More Asia-Pacific states urgently need to support their airline sector

  57. 04/04 14:46

    Spokesperson: Stricter measures for inconsistent citizens in Greece

  58. 04/04 14:43

    International Air Transport Association postpones 76th Annual General Meeting

  59. 04/04 14:36

    Greek Labor Ministry offers online professional training programs

  60. 04/04 12:54

    More than €4 million fines imposed for violating health protection measures

  61. 03/04 20:38

    Greece and 12 EU states worry over democratic nature of COVID-19 measures

  62. 03/04 20:34

    Metropolitans of Archdiocese of America offer 20% of their salaries

  63. 03/04 20:19

    Minister: Irresponsible to discuss possible salary cuts in Greek public sector now

  64. 03/04 15:11

    European states to ensure EU fundamental values in face of Covid-19

  65. 03/04 15:02

    Greek Minister: Commissioners propose activation of emergency support

  66. 03/04 14:53

    MIT Professor: Greece’s lockdown saved thousands of lives (video)

  67. 03/04 14:47

    Greek Finance Minister: Plan for tourism sector support to follow

  68. 03/04 14:34

    Greece’s coronavirus lockdown could tighten within next few days

  69. 03/04 14:29

    Prime Minister to CNN: Greek society has shown great solidarity (video)

  70. 03/04 14:21

    Coronavirus: Refugee camp and passenger ship quarantined in Greece

  71. 03/04 14:14

    Greece suspends reform in real estate market prices regime due to Covid-19

  72. 03/04 14:08

    Greek supermarket sales rise during coronavirus outbreak

  73. 03/04 13:50

    Dual weather fronts from north and south to 'split' Greece during weekend

  74. 03/04 13:45

    Philo4Thought announces virtual coffee hour starting on April 5

  75. 03/04 13:32

    24 million doses of chloroquine medicine given to hospitals in Greece on Friday

  76. 03/04 13:19

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece addresses Greek flock

  77. 03/04 11:13

    MyBusinessSupport platform opens in Greece on Friday

  78. 03/04 02:59

    Swiss hotel sells luxury quarantine including $500 coronavirus test

  79. 02/04 23:17

    Greek government tables another 5 billion to combat Coronavirus outbreak

  80. 02/04 23:06

    Update from The National Hellenic Museum on coronavirus pandemic

  81. 02/04 22:56

    Minister: Patients with coronavirus in Greek public hospitals now at 530

  82. 02/04 22:47

    Cyprus extends Covid-19 flight ban for two weeks on April 2

  83. 02/04 22:44

    Applications for 800-euro special purpose benefit reach 80,400 in Greece

  84. 02/04 22:11

    AP: Thai Airways International suspends all flights from abroad

  85. 02/04 21:42

    AP: Health advisors not worried about Covid-19 in food

  86. 02/04 21:18

    Hellenic Film Society presents YouTube channel and proposes films to stream

  87. 02/04 20:26

    #GreeceFromHome: Greek Tourism Ministry's innovative platform keeps the dream destination in the heart of fans

  88. 02/04 15:24

    Development and Investments Minister: Supply chain in Greece at 100%

  89. 02/04 15:01

    Greek clinic offers more ICU beds and its ER to the public health system

  90. 02/04 14:21

    Ecumenical Patriarchate's new announcement on Covid-19 church closings

  91. 02/04 14:02

    Greek PM: April could prove 'decisive' for the future of the coronavirus pandemic

  92. 02/04 12:24

    Ritsona refugee camp on full lockdown after 20 coronavirus cases detected

  93. 01/04 23:54

    More assistance considered by Shipping Ministry for ferries in Greece

  94. 01/04 23:42

    Ivanka Trump studies Greek mythology during COVID-19 pandemic

  95. 01/04 23:36

    International Air Transport Association: Airlines facing rapid cash burn

  96. 01/04 23:25

    Greek forces stay alert at border after Turkey is forced to pull migrants back

  97. 01/04 23:04

    Greece and Cyprus record highest growth in seeking online health information

  98. 01/04 21:39

    World Tourism Organization calls for action for tourism's COVID-19 mitigation

  99. 01/04 21:25

    IATA: Secretary-General's remarks at media briefing on coronavirus pandemic

  100. 01/04 21:16

    Free e-learning for 200 islanders and border residents by University of Athens