Digest: Russian nationals were the biggest buyers of real estate in Montenegro in 2019 / Greece introduces incentives for foreign pensioners / Portugal and the USA top the list of immigration choices by the wealthy from Latin America

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Elena Smirnova 12.08.2020

Read our digest to learn the latest developments in respect of migration programs. This week’s topics include: Russian nationals crowd the top of the list of investors under Montenegro Citizenship by Investment program; and whether Malaysia is going to resume its residency by investment program.

Russian nationals were the biggest buyers of real estate in Montenegro in 2019

Out of € 170 mln spent by foreign nationals on houses, apartments and other property units € 39 mln were spent by citizens of the RF. This was reported by BalkanInsight with a reference to the Montenegro Central Bank report.

5 to 7 thousand Russian nationals permanently reside in Montenegro, and they own about 40% of real estate. They choose mainly Bar and Budva, two coastal towns in the south.

The second place among the top real estate buyers is occupied by Serbian nationals, who invested € 16.6 million.

This Republic on the Adriatic coast is a location well-liked by foreigners. Its citizenship by investment program was launched in November 2019. Passports can be obtained by property investors. The investment threshold ranges from €250,000 in the northern regions of the country to €450,000 in the south and near the coastline of Podgorica. Another option is a donation starting from € 100,000. The government intends to issue only 2,000 passports in the period of three years, after which the program will be closed.

Montenegro is at the final stage of negotiations on accession to the EU, which is scheduled for 2025.

Please fill in the contact form on our website and Migronis’ expert will advise you on a detailed procedure to obtain citizenship, as well as on real estate units that have been approved for the CBI program.

Greece introduces incentives for foreign pensioners

Athens plans to expand Greece’s taxpayer pool through incentives for seniors from other countries. Having cited Christos Staikouras, the country’s Minister of Finance, the Ekathimerini Portal reports that the authorities prepared an open invitation proposing a flat tax rate of 7%.

Elderly foreigners will be offered to change their tax residency to the Greek one, and at the same time they do not need to move to the country for life.

Please note that due to the pandemic, the Republic has suspended operation of the beneficial owners register for 3 months starting from July 1, 2020.

During the above mentioned period, reportable persons can upload the necessary documents to the tax office resources for storage, but do not need to submit them yet.

Retirement is not a prerequisite for a residence permit in the European Union. If you are interested in obtaining such a status in Greece, please contact Migronis’ consultants for details.

Portugal and the USA top the list of immigration choices by the wealthy from Latin America

Governments of majority poor countries of South and Central America aim to replenish state budgets affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And they want to do it at the expense of their wealthy compatriots. According to bloombergtax.com, parliaments of these states are considering laws to impose additional taxes on wealth despite the fact that the progressive tax scale has already been in force.

The portal interviewed lawyers who noted that now they received five times more requests and those were mostly from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile. It is rather common for wealthy people to see the solution in moving abroad with their families and giving up the tax resident status. They evaluate chances for obtaining a residence permit by investment and their first choice are the USA and Portugal. Low-tax Uruguay and Panama are their second string to the bow.

International tax lawyers told bloombergtax that when it comes to tax efficiency, they now advise clients to consider moving in the first place.

At the same time, wealthy people have a clear understanding of procedures behind beneficial ownership registries and the OECD Automatic Exchange of Information. They prefer to stay away from schemes and offshore companies and to obtain a residence permit or citizenship.

According to Credit Suisse, there are about 670,000 people with assets of more than US$ 1 mln in Latin America. This is 0.2% of the Region’s population. Setting the ratio against those in Europe and North America, we can see 2.3% and 7.3% respectively.

If you face an inadequate tax burden, please contact Migronis to get advice from a highly experienced expert in international tax law and select the most favorable immigration option.

Malaysian real estate players came out for bringing the residency by investment program back from suspension

As the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) puts it, the Federal government should reconsider the decision to suspend the MM2H (the Malaysia is My Second Home) residency program for foreign investors. It was reported by themalaysianreserve with reference to Michael Geh, the FIABCI Malaysia president.

 According to him, the MM2H has already played a significant role in the economic development of the Kingdom, including the real estate and tourism sectors. Representatives of the business community do not agree with suspension of the MM2H for six months. “It will be difficult for Malaysia to restore its image abroad and regain investor confidence. Our positions in competition for foreign capital will be lost against Thailand and Singapore,” Geh explained.

The freemalaysiatoday reported that representatives of the Malaysian immigration sector said that the program suspension was a disaster.

On July 2, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri announced that the MM2H program had been temporarily suspended for review and further improvement through the end of the year.

Let us note that during the period of September to November 2019, the Kingdom’s immigration service players and their foreign partners faced a crisis due to the fact that of 90% investor applications had been rejected.

The Federal government launched the MM2H program in 2002. It stipulates a 10-year residency by investment with the possibility to renew the status. In the past 18 years this right has been availed by about 39,000 expatriates. They contributed about US$ 6 bln into the country’s economy, aside from expenses incurred during their stay in Malaysia.

There are more than two dozen active programs in the world for obtaining citizenship and resident status by investment. You can use the following link to directly select the most appropriate option based on 14 criteria.

Netherlands approved the launch of a new platform for investors with cryptocurrency

The Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets approved the launch of a service through which digital token holders can invest in real estate around the world. This was reported  by insidebitcoins.com, a specialized information resource.

 The country’s authorities have been testing new frameworks for attracting digital tokens from around the world to the national economy. Prior to its official launch, this private blockchain-based crowdfunding platform got a pool of 70 thousand investors. Moreover, cryptocurrency holders have the opportunity to invest starting from €100. Developers collaborating with the platform get access to international funding of projects.

 Investors have to pay monthly administration fees in the amount of 0.1 percent of their investment. There is also a one-time fee equal to the same 0.1 percent. The platform creators claim that all funds are used to issue special security tokens that are functionally similar to company bonds. The project administrators, including one large international real estate corporation, promise investors a yield of up to 6.5% from such security tokens.

 Please note that investors with cryptocurrency have a better option – to invest in real estate projects approved for immigration programs. In addition to interest and full refund of investment amounts, you can get a passport or residence permit after the specified period. 

Partial payments with digital tokens are permitted in Grenada, Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. In Europe, Cyprus allows to partially secure real estate purchases with cryptocurrency subject to participation in the citizenship by investment program. Also, virtual currency can be used to obtain permanent residency in Cyprus and a residence permit in Portugal.

Did you know that participation in the citizenship by investment program is possible with cryptocurrency? Write to us and Migronis’ consultants will advise on how you can do it.

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