Portugal's Golden Visa: Key updates you need to know if you're taking the leap
Portugalâs Golden Visa: Key updates you need to know if youâre taking the leap
JOHANNESBURG â" For years, Portugalâs Golden Visa programme has become a strong plan B for many South Africans looking to hedge their bets against the uncertainty that exists in the country. There have been some recent changes to the programme that have actually improved the efficiencies of the Golden Visa Programme. In this interview, Sable Internationalâs Andrew Rissik runs through some of these key changes. â" Gareth van Zyl
Itâs a pleasure to welcome Andrew Rissik, who is a Director of Forex and International Projects at Sable International. Andrew, before we jump into the recent changes in Portugalâs Golden Visa programme, can you give us an overview of what this programme is again and why itâs potentially attractive for many South Africans?
Yes, good to be speaking to you again. Itâs fundamentally a residency-by-investment programme that gives you the right to residency in Portugal for a period of five years, minimum. That obviously entitles you to go and live and work in Portugal if you want to. But through an investment (which until recently has had a minimum threshold of â¬500 000 in real estate) one could (as the main applicant) take your spouse and your dependant children along.
One of the real positives about the programme is that one doesnât need to actually up sticks and leave SA. You only need to spend, on average, seven days a year in Portugal to meet the residence requirement and I think thatâs really whatâs made it extremely popular in SA. Many people want a plan B without having to physically leave the shores of SA and go through the hassle of relocating to a completely new country.
Now, thereâs been a recent development thatâs made it easier to obtain a Golden Visa as well amid a new law having been passed in Portugal. Can you unpack these changes for our listeners out there?
Yes, I think âeasierâ is always quite a subjective word when it comes to dealing with immigrating and immigration matters in foreign countries. More affordable is certainly the way we could also describe it. So, initially when the Golden Visa was launched there were three criteria you could invest in: â¬1m in capital, â¬500 000 in real estate or you could set up a company employing 10 Portuguese taxpayers, which was a very unpopular option. If you look at statistically, out of the approximately six-thousand families that have been moved to Portugal to date, since the programme was started in October 2012, 98% of them have been through the â¬500 000 real estate investment. Thatâs been by far the most popular.
But more recently they launched a â¬350 000 property category â" which I think Iâve spoken about before â" that was slightly more complex. The property had to be in a regeneration area, it had to be over 30 years old and there were some complexities that went along with it. Thereâs been a lot of demand for the â¬350 000 property option, but the real issue is finding supply, and supply that is a good investment and thatâs not too risky. So, weâve found that quite difficult in meeting the demand out there.
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More recently, a new criterion has been introduced, which is also for â¬350 000, under the capital investment bracket. Weâve got a really interesting product at the moment, which has got an underlying real estate investment, as youâre buying â¬350 000 in a private equity fund and the underlying asse t is a beautiful hotel, which is established and up and running, in a really attractive part of Lisbon. So, that is something that weâre very happy to offer our clients. I think thatâs opened up a new opportunity for investors.
What is the hotel called?
Itâs called The Vintage. Weâve actually got our partners coming out from Portugal â" they will be out here towards the end of July. Weâll be showcasing that hotel on a one-on-one basis with potential investors.
How committed is Portugal to this programme?
Yes, there are always a lot of questions around the so-called Golden Visa residency, and citizenship-by-investment programmes. Politically, they are closely watched in Europe. Weâve had issues where some undesirables have invested and become EU citizens through the Cyrus Program for instance. But the Portugal one is a residency-by-investment programme. It started in 2012 under the then-government. In 2014 or 2015, there was a change of govern ment and the opposition took over and they fully backed the programme. Itâs been endorsed by most parties in Portugal.
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Itâs been really good for the Portuguese economy. If you remember that Portugal was part of the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) countries that were bailed out by the IMF in 2012. Part of the condition of that bailout was that they had to modernise their economies. So, they put in a raft of incentives to try and stimulate the economy, one of them being the Golden Visa, which was really designed to attract foreign capital investment from non-European investors and to date, thereâs been over â¬3 billion worth of investment directly into residential real estate. Thereâs been all the other knock-on positives, for instance, every investor goes over and tells their friends about Portugal.
Portugal has become very popular in the last couple of years from a tourism perspective. So, whilst we were in the 2015/2016 arena, we had a really difficult period with backlogs and delays in the approval of applications because of the popularity of the programme. Weâve already seen the Portuguese government, in the last two years, working hard to overcome those problems, and in fact, as recently as last Friday thereâs been a legislation change around some of the citizenship implications for when investors come to the end of the five-year period, which we believe are the moves that theyâre trying to make to actually, simplify this programme even more.
Can you just explain those specific legislative changes?
Just to give you an idea, when they first launched the programme, the minimum stay requirement was going to be 30 days per year, on average, over the five years. So, that would have been 150 days. Very quickly they realised that thatâs not practically possible for a non-resident investor. So, they changed that to seven days. Then a couple of years later your dependants could come along as a resident, with you as the main applicant.
So, for instance, if I had one of my kids studying at Stellenbosch University, heâs 22 years old, heâs still dependant on me. He would then be eligible for the Golden Visa. In the early days, the law said that they had to be studying at a tertiary institution in Portugal. But they actually changed the rules and said that they could be studying at a tertiary education institution anywhere in the world as long as they are financially dependant on you as the main investor. Again, that was a small change that they made to the legislation to actually clarify these so-called grey areas because people were ducking and diving. So, theyâve clarified that and weâre definitely seeing moves now for clarification on the transition from being a resident to ultimately applying and naturalising as a citizen once youâve done your six-year residency period.
Now, apparently some people are trying to skip getting professional advice when getting a Golden Visa. What are the risks if you go it on your own in this process?
There are two aspects of risk. At the end of the day, you are making a very big investment, mostly into real estate. So, just think of it in your own country. If youâre looking at buying a property for anywhere between R7 million and R10 million, thereâs a certain amount of risk involved in making a real estate investment. You are now doing this in a foreign country and a foreign currency, and if youâre 10,000 km away from your investment â" there is risk. The predominant reason why people are looking at this programme is because, ultimately, theyâre looking for a plan B, so thereâs a whole residency/citizenship component to the decision. European immigratio n is a field where you should really be taking professional advice.
What weâre seeing now is that this programme has become more well-known and people are better researched compared to three or four years ago. But if you jump into an Uber in Lisbon these days, your taxi driver will be telling you about the Golden Visa and heâll tell you that heâs got a cousin who can help you find a property, and he knows a friend whoâs a lawyer. When that happens, you really have to be careful. Itâs very easy when youâre in Portugal and itâs a fantastic, very accommodating, friendly city. The Portuguese are very hospitable people, but at the end of the day, you need to be careful that youâre dealing with people whoâve got your back, and weâve heard of some horror stories.
There are investors in Johannes burg whoâve lost their â¬500 000 investment through an attorney. This lawyer is now sitting in jail, but the investors have lost the full capital amount of their investment. The other real risk is that people could buy properties at a â¬500 000 threshold, but the property may only be worth â¬420 000 â" you could be overpaying, as the vendor might be just putting it up to â¬500 000 so that you meet that criteria.
Weâve gone to great pains over a period of many years to make sure that weâve developed a really good network of professionals, both lawyers and real estate vendors, that work closely with Sable International, and we make sure that they understand what the criteria are for our clients. We ensure right from the outset that our clients are making the right investment decisions and getting involved with the right lawyers.
Finally, youâre also holding a roadshow in SA towards the end of July 2018. Where is it happening and whatâs involved, if one w ants to attend?
Weâve got one of our property partners who will be joining us and weâre going to be working through the country over a period of five days. So, it starts on 23 July, in Durban, for the whole day. Then weâre going to be up in Johannesburg for the Tuesday and Wednesday, 24 and 25 July. Then we head down to Cape Town on the 26 and 27 July. People are welcome to make contact with us and make an appointment.
Weâve got a lot of time to see people and probably just spend about an hour with each person whoâs interested. Weâll talk about the legal aspects of the programme but, more importantly, weâll have some really nice investments to show them as well. It will give them a really good idea of what theyâll be getting for their money, and they can actually meet the developers face-to-face.
Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me. Itâs been fascinating learning more about the Golden Visa programme.
Pleasure Gar eth and thanks for the opportunity.Gareth van Zyl | Make Better Decisions. Start your Biznews Premium FREE TRIAL today.Source: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal
Sheriff's Captain convicted in Carlos Rafael plot to smuggle money to Portugal
MondayJul 16, 2018 at 7:08 PM Jul 16, 2018 at 9:10 PM
Defendant helped smuggle money overseas for the 'Codfather'
BOSTON â" A captain with the Bristol County Sheriffâs Office was convicted Monday by a federal jury in connection with helping Carlos Rafael, owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S., smuggle the profits of his illegal overfishing scheme to Portugal, authorities said.
Jamie Melo, 46, of North Dartmouth was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States and one count of structuring the export of monetary instruments. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for Oct. 24, 2018.
The jury acquitted the defendant of one count of bulk cash smuggling, according to a news release from the U.S. At torney's Office.
During the trial, evidence showed that while at Logan International Airport, Melo asked his friends and travel companions to carry envelopes of cash for Rafael â" known as the Codfather in the New Bedford fishing industry â" on a flight to the Azores.
At the time, Melo was an administrative captain with the Bristol County Sheriffâs Office and was traveling to the Azores with Rafael for a charity event sponsored by the Bristol County Sheriffâs Office. Prior to the flight, Melo asked three of his travel companions to follow him into the menâs bathroom at Logan Airport before going through the TSA Security Checkpoint and distributed four envelopes of cash, taking one for himself, the release said. Two days after arriving in Portugal, bank records demonstrate that Rafael deposited $76,000 in U.S. currency into his Portuguese bank account.
The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of structuring the export of monetary instruments provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors, authorities said.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Mark Tasky, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Philadelphia Field Office; and Kristina OâConnell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Serviceâs Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Gallagher and Justin OâConnell of Lellingâs Economic Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.Source: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal
Aga Khan visits Portugal as year-long event ends
- Addressing the Parliament, the Aga Khan underlined the value of intercultural and interreligious connectedness.
- The Aga Khan called on developing countries to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by technological innovations to spearhead their own developments.
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The Aga Khan concluded year-long celebrations to mark his 60th anniversary as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims with a State visit to Portugal last week.
During the visit, he met President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the Belem Palace where he was conferred with State honours.
President Sousa and the Aga Khan discussed areas for mutual collaboration, including health, education, s cience and research as well as culture and environmental conservation.
The President later hosted the Aga Khan to dinner at the Queluz Palace, where he commended the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for spearheading development projects across the world.
The Aga Khan lauded the cordial relations between Portugal and AKDN.
âWe have a very welcoming environment in Portugal; we have shared values â" an appreciation for diversity, and a commitment to improve the quality of life where we live around the world. We have a global outlook,â the Aga Khan said.
The Aga Khan also met Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who hosted a luncheon in his honour and presented him with commemorative First Day Diamond Jubilee stamps issued by Portugalâs Postal Service.
COUNTRIES OF OPPORTUNITY
In addition, the spiritual leader addressed Portugalâs Parliament and concluded with an address to a global gathering that brought together the Ismaili and dignitaries from various parts of the world.
Addressing the Parliament, the Aga Khan underlined the value of intercultural and interreligious connectedness.
He called on developing countries to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by technological innovations to spearhead their own developments.
He said nations that sought to prosper must become âCountries of Opportunityâ; those that build on the strengths of their past and tackled challenges of the present and established values and systems that respected and promoted diversity.
âA Country of Opportunity is one that encourages cooperation among diverse interests, fostering partnerships between government and the private sector, for example, while also encouraging those private organisations that are designed to serve public goals, what we often called institutions of civil society,â he said.
JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS< p>He saluted Portugal for fitting the bill â" meeting the threshold of a Country of Opportunity â" by pursuing economic and political growth and at the same time promoting cultural, spiritual and social well-being of the citizens.
Portugal, he said, played a central role in worldâs history, producing the early adventurers and discoverers who toured the world and created connections between continents and peoples of different races.
The Diamond Jubilee celebrations started last year and saw the Aga Khan travel to various countries around the world, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
He also visited Canada, France, UK and the US. He launched various projects during the visits.
His Highness the Aga Khan has been the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims for 61 years.
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Tarus, Chumo to spend night in police cellSource: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal
Eleven secures more football for Portugal
Eleven secures more football for Portugal
- Written by DTVE Reporter
UK-based international sports broadcaster Eleven Sports has secured live and exclusive rights to UEFA Youth League football in Portugal.
The deal, which will last for three years, boosts Elevenâs line-up of content for the Portuguese market, where it launched recently.
Elevent holds the Portuguese rights to Spainâs La Liga, Franceâs Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League.
Other content on the service includes German Bundesliga football from the 2019-20 season, the Scottish Premiership and Belgian Pro League.
In May, Eleven struck a deal with Portuguese cable operator Nowo to debut its channels in the Portuguese market. The broadcaster said at the time that it would look to increase its rights portfolio going forward.
âWe are thrilled to build on our strong partnership with UEFA by adding UEFA Youth League to our football p ortfolio, strengthening Eleven Sportsâ position as the go-to destination for football fans. Football is the number one sport in Portugal and the UEFA Youth League gives fans the opportunity to watch some of the best young talent in Europe and a chance to catch a glimpse of the next Cristiano Ronaldo.â said Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, Eleven Sports.
âI know from my time at UEFA how valuable this property is for European Footballâs Governing Body and how much it is growing exponentially across Europe.â said Pedro Pinto, non-executive director, Eleven Portugal. âFor Eleven to have secured the UEFA Youth League rights in Portugal is particularly significant considering how successful Portuguese teams have been in it. The UEFA Youth League is where the future superstars of world football play, and we are excited to take this competition to fans in this market.âTags: Eleven Sports, Nowo, Portugal
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Source: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal
Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal
When design firms Aurora Arquitectos and Furo were asked to transform an old building in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Cascais into a hip hostel, they had their work cut out for them. Though the building was still standing, the interiors were completely rundown. Using a laminated steel frame to reinforce the structure, the architects steadily transformed the building from ruin to welcoming lodgings that play up the Portugal vacation theme with tropical prints and bright, sunny colors.
Located near the coast just west of Lisbon, the Hostel in Parede is housed in a stately renovated building painted a beautiful sky blue. The interior was divided into nine modules, with the central module housing a skylit spiral staircase painted a vibrant shade of yellow to evoke the sun and the nearby sandy beaches. The sculptural staircase, which connects the three floors, features rounded corners that hide the utilities.
âWe were asked to consi der the project as having a high level of flexibility in terms of future use,â Aurora Arquitectos and Furo said. âA hostel at first, capable of becoming a single-family house with little changes. This is how the autonomous volumes containing the bathrooms came to be, easily removable should one want larger bedrooms. The overall buildingâs structure also derived from the logic of easy future transformation.â
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Bedrooms are distr ibuted across all three floors of the hostel. The semi-basement houses two of the dorm rooms, bathrooms and laundry room, and it opens up to the garage and courtyard. The ground floor comprises the main communal areas including the reception, kitchen, dining room, living room and a bedroom space with shared bathroom facilities. Four more dormitory rooms are located on the first floor, with the bathrooms housed in a freestanding unit placed in the center of each room.
+ Aurora Arquitectos
Images Â© do mal o menos
China set to fully control Portugal's power grid amid Europe's inertia
China is set to make further inroads into European infrastructure, as a state-owned company attempts to gain full control of Portugalâs power grid.
The case could be a game changer when it comes to third country foreign investments in the EU. Currently, the Commission lacks the proper legal framework to âprotectâ EU common interests and it could be a wake-up call to speed up the procedure to establish an investments screening mechanism.
In 2011, Portugalâs government was required to sell its stake in the countryâs power grids as part of the terms of its â¬78 billion bailout programme, organised by the European Commission and International Monetary Fund.
China Three Gorges (CTG) quickly snapped up the 21.35% share of Energias de Portugal (EDP) for â¬2.7 billion but reportedly committed in 2012 to remaining a minority shareholder.
EURACTIV was info rmed that the CTG purchase was not notified to the European Commission and, as such, no assessment was carried out.
But the company is now pursuing a majority stake in EDP that, combined with shares owned by other state-owned enterprises (SOEs), would give China near full control of an EU countryâs power system.
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EU leaders will discuss on Friday options to âscreenâ foreign investment in strategic sectors, but a more far-reaching proposal that would allow blocking takeovers at EU level remains off the table for now.
EDP is also a big player in renewable energy, as it is the majority owner of EDP Renewables, the worldâs fourth largest wind energy producer, which aligns with Chinaâs own impressive forays into clean energy.
CTG, which boasts one of the worldâs la rgest dams among its assets, has already tabled an offer for the EDPR shares not controlled by EDP, meaning if its offer for the parent company is accepted, it would control both entities.
EDP is currently considering a third offer that sources say is in excess of â¬10 billion. The Portuguese government does not oppose the sale.
If accepted, China would control the generation and distribution of Portugalâs power, as well as holding 25% of the management company that runs both the electricity and gas grids, Redes EnergÃ©ticas Nacionais (REN), which is also held through a separate SOE.
The Portuguese case comes at a portentous time for the EU, which is currently trying to broker an agreement between the Commission, Council and Parliament on investment screening, after France, Germany and Italy asked the EU executive to act in February 2017.
Many European economies are concerned that if large-scale investments by third parties like China are not controlle d, assets could be âlootedâ, according to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
Chinese SOEs already control significant stakes in the Italian power grids, British gas network and Greeceâs grid operator. The Port of Piraeus is also partly controlled by another state-run outfit.
A source close to the issue told EURACTIV that Chinaâs âdiscretionâ was getting dangerous. âThey are patient. In most cases, they buy initially a small share with an aim to increase it in the long run,â the source said.
A first round of trilateral talks on investment screening kicked off on 10 July and EU trade boss Cecilia MalmstrÃ¶m hopes for a final deal on the âpriority fileâ before the end of the year.
When amending the Commissionâs proposal, which was published last September, the Parliament decided that if one-third of EU member states judge that an investment screening process affects their interests, their views must be taken into account by the country in question.
In Portugalâs case, it is unlikely that other member states would trigger that option, given the isolated nature of the Iberian peninsula from the rest of Europe.
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EURACTIV understands that Italy, Germany and France are pushing for an investment screening deal while some Visegrad countries, the UK, Croatia and Cyprus have expressed reservations.
Hungaryâs Permanent Representation to the EU was asked to comment on the case but it declined to do so.
Under Commission scrutiny
Under its current investment policy instruments, the Commission does not assess individual FDI cases.
In a statement recently, Commissioner MalmstrÃ¶m said that in its FDI proposal, the EU executive did not establish a country-by-country list of strategic sectors, but seeks to establish a coordination framework under which member states and the Commission may provide comments and opinions on FDI likely to affect security or public order.
EURACTIV asked about the role of the Commission, as coordinator of the bailout programmes, when it comes to privatisation of critical assets. Particularly, it asked whether the wider long-term political implications for the EU as a whole are considered when EU countries under bailout are forced to sell critical assets such as in the energy sector.
A source said that from a programme perspective, the primary interest of privatisations â" apart from improving the performance of SOEs and in this way reducing fiscal risks â " was to reduce the financing needs of the state and to improve debt sustainability.
To the extent that relevant EU law was respected, programme partners did not have a mandate or the capacity to look into all the terms of privatisation procedures implemented during the programme period, the source explained.
As for the strategy to purchase a small number of shares and then expand gradually to full takeover, the same source noted that the Commission had to approve acquisitions of control under the EU merger regulation when the companies involved meet certain thresholds.
âThose thresholds are based on the turnover of the companies involved and ensure that only deals of a certain size have to be notified and approved. The requirement to obtain Commission approval applies regardless of the sector and regardless of the nationality of the acquirer. It therefore also applies to acquisitions by Chinese SOEs in the energy sector,â the source said.
The same s ource added that although acquisitions of control had to be approved, acquisitions of a non-controlling stake in a company do not have to be notified and approved to the Commission.
âHowever, this does not mean the EU Merger Regulation can be circumvented by acquiring a company gradually, through purchases of a small number of shares.â
If a company first acquires a non-controlling stake and then later increases its stake to a level where it can exercise control, the acquisition of the additional stake will trigger a review under the EU Merger Regulation. This also applies to Chinese SOEs.â
âIn other words, if a Chinese SOE were to first acquire a non-controlling stake, this would not be notifiable. But as soon as the stake is increased to a level where the Chinese SOE acquires control, the acquisition would have to be notified and approved by the Commission,â the source concluded.
What the EU Parliament says
On 20 March 2 017, ten MEPs from the European Peoplesâ Party (EPP) put forward a proposal for a Union act on the Screening of Foreign Investment in Strategic Sectors.
Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner (EPP) told EURACTIV that electricity and gas infrastructure had to be considered critical EU infrastructure, and it ought to be protected by the investment screening mechanism.
âI think the issue should be addressed at the upcoming EU-China Summit. However, I believe that a much bigger problem is Gazprom, Nord Stream and the dependence of Russian gas,â he added.
For Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias from GUE-NGL, there is no argument that European stockholders are better than Chinese ones.
She added that the government does not make its position clear regarding the issue but explained that it does not want to make it public again.
âThe Portuguese state owns no stock in EDP. The company was completely privatised and has no public capital and very few Portuguese (or European) institutional stockholders. 35% of the stock was dispersed which makes it very easy for the Chinese to achieve a dominant position,â she said.
According to Matias, the company has always been a very profitable, even when it was public but prices have soared since it was privatised.
âOur proposal (Bloco de Esquerda) is to nationalise the company. We have also been making proposals to end various rentist conditions that EDP benefits from, at the expense of taxpayers and consumers,â she concluded.Source: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal