Thousands of refugees from Africa and the Middle East risk their lives to reach the shores of Europe and escape conflict and repression.  But for the wealthy there are easier options available. With enough money, it's possible to purchase a EU passport - or at least residence. 

Since 2012, more EU countries – like Malta, Cyprus and Portugal - have begun to generate millions for the public coffers by selling national passports or residence permits through popular 'citizenship-by-investment' and ‘golden visa’ schemes. The customers are almost always kept secret by these governments. So who are these new European citizens? And what are the risks of these kinds of programs?

A cross-border team of journalists obtained secret lists of applicants' names from several countries and found that some countries, like Cyprus and Portugal, sold passports or residence to a wide array of controversial figures.

Team members

Craig Shaw

Craig Shaw is a British journalist and editor of The Black sea Project.

Craig Shaw

Micael Pereira

Micael Pereira (Portugal) is a senior reporter and investigative journalist at Expresso.

Micael Pereira

Sara Farolfi

Sara Farolfi is an Italian freelance journalist.

Stelios Orphanides

Stelios Orphanides is a Cypriot journalist, currently works for OCCRP.
Stelios Orphanides
Grant of €7.550 allocated in March 2016

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