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Portugal brings back ‘golden visas’ for wealthy investors

The Portuguese government on Thursday passed a decree reinstating the granting of so-called “golden visas” for foreign investors, after they were frozen earlier this month following a corruption scandal.

Since the end of 2012, Portugal has been granting these special visas to foreigners ready to shell out at least 500,000 euros ($545,000) for a house or apartment, make a capital transfer of one million euros or create 10 jobs.

But the visas were frozen when a legal vacuum emerged after a new immigration law went into effect on July 1. The law repealed several provisions relating to the “golden visas”, but did not replace them with others.

And Portuguese prosecutors said earlier this month they planned to charge former interior minister Miguel Macedo for his role in a money-laundering scandal involving the “golden visas” that also implicated the former head of border police.

“It would be a shame if Portugal misses out on investments from other countries because of the turmoil created by a court case,” government spokesman Luis Marques Guedes said Thursday after announcing the new decree.

In order to end the freeze, President Anibal Cavaco Silva must publish the decree.

Chinese, followed by Brazilians and Russians have been the top recipients of the visas.

As of late June, Portugal counted 2,420 “golden visas” had been issued and had brought 1.46 billion euros ($1.59 billion) of investment into the country.