Convicted Russian tax cheat benefits from Hungarian residency bond program

September 8, 2016

taxcheats

“The government’s credibility is seriously called into question if our daily was able [to find such a person]. Furthermore, this casts serious doubts over the cabinet`s ability to filter out individuals with suspected ties to terrorism trying to take part in the residency bond program.” – Magyar Nemzet

Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet reports that a convicted Russian tax cheat was able to take part in Hungary’s controversial residency bond program. According to Magyar Nemzet‘s source, the Russian citizen was able to get around the rather loose residency bond requirements by  having the Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis release a copy of his criminal record.

A loophole in Hungary’s residency bond program allows for potential buyers to forward copies of their criminal record from their country of residence, which, in the case of this particular buyer, is not the country of which he is a citizen.

Hungary’s Immigration and Citizenship Agency (BÁH) requires buyers of the residency bond to provide a copy of their criminal record from their place of residence.

“It is enough for them to establish a residence in a tax haven, and then request a perfectly clean copy of their criminal record [for that place of residence],” reports Magyar Nemzet.

Hungary’s interior ministry has vehemently denied accusations that criminals are able to take part in the country’s residency bond program. According to the ministry, those who purchase Hungary’s residency bonds are subject to a four-level evaluation, which includes review by the Immigration and Citizenship Agency, the Counterterrorism Center, the Constitutional Protection Office, and the Hungarian police.

In August, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár said Hungarian authorities have yet to find a single suspicious person through this process.

According to Magyar Nemzet, “the government’s credibility is seriously called into question if our daily was able [to find such a person]. Furthermore, this casts serious doubts over the cabinet`s ability to filter out individuals with suspected ties to terrorism trying to take part in the residency bond program.”

Some 16,000 individuals have been able to gain admittance to Hungary (and the Schengen Zone) through the country’s controversial residency bond program.

Those wishing to take part receive a decision from Hungarian authorities within 30 days of applying. In other words, the short duration of the screening process calls into question the ability of the four agencies to complete a thorough examination of each applicant.

Another interesting twist

It turns out that the owner of Arton Capital Kft., one of the handful of companies selected by parliament’s economics committee under its former chairman Antal Rogán to sell residency bonds, was actually a former classmate of his.

Earlier this week, Arton Capital owner Radosztina Balogh made headlines after it was reported that Hungary’s honorary consul in Bahrain operates a service which makes referrals to that company’s residency bond program.