In the last 2 months – August and September 2019, we have received large number of complaints from clients from HONG KONG about local (HK) “agents”, promoting illegally the Bulgarian Citizenship by investment program. The unrest and the chaos in Hong Kong is driving many desperate people to seek shelter abroad and the need for second citizenship has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, when there is chaos, the scammers are waking up. We urge you to read first our article – The people of Hong Kong – an easy prey for unscrupulous citizenship “agents”.
The controversial “financed option” – the Hong Kong way
Virtually all of the complaints are addressing the so-called “financed option”. It became apparent that the “agents” from HK (and also mainland China) are trying to lure clients who do not posses the required capital of 1 024 000 EUR (512 000 EUR for the semi-fast-track option) by promising them “exotic investment schemes” that would provide the client the possibility to bypass the investment requirement. This is often “achieved” in return for some irrevocable “small” fee that the “agent” charges for the service.
Is the “financed option” legal?
Yes, the “financed option” is legal, but as it is often the case, the devil is in the details. In order to be legally utilized, the financing of the investment has to undergo several (comprehensive) stages of compliance, none of which are possible to be carried out by the HK so-called “agents”. Not only they lack the expertise to apply the Bulgarian codes correctly, but most importantly, they don’t have the legally required credentials to carry all required procedures.
The perception of the “financed option” by the authorities in Bulgaria
The Bulgarian authorities are reacting extremely negative when the citizenship applicant is financing its investment. Even when all legal requirements are met, the applicant is put through enormous scrutiny during all stages of the citizenship application. Our clients who have opted for financing don’t really feel any difference, however they are not seeing (luckily) the effort of our lawyers in the backstage.
The government in Bulgaria is fully supporting the general population opinion, that all Bulgarian citizenship by investment candidates should have readily available the required capital (which is anyway much, much lower than the investment requirements in Cyprus and Malta). Financing the investment is seen as “buying the passport”, rather than “obtaining citizenship by investment”. This practice is also harshly criticized by the European Commission and the legal texts allowing this are subject to critical reviews.
After the unrest in HK started in 2019, the amount of complaints from Hongkongers who have been promised (falsely) “financing schemes” by HK “agents” has skyrocketed. The Bulgarian authorities are now extremely wary of accepting any HK national when there are any signs that his investment is financed. The amount of work that our lawyers need to do in order to defy the suspicions by the national security and other services, is enormous.
No more “financed option” for Hong Kong nationals from November 1st, 2019
We have decided, with effect from November 1st, not to accept any new clients for Bulgarian citizenship by investment, when they intend to finance their investment. We share our government’s position that “the Bulgarian citizenship by investment candidate has to invest in Bulgarian bonds/shares, rather than to buy his citizenship”.
It is obvious that we will be not able to assist huge number of applicants who don’t posses the capital, but would still want to become EU citizens. The sheer number of those who can afford the investment however, is still larger than we are able to service. So we will give our preference and attention to them.
We are working closely with the Bulgarian authorities in order to combat illegal “financial schemes” that are being deployed in order to scam Bulgarian citizenship candidates from Hong Kong. If you have been victim of any such scam and you need legal assistance, you may want to fill in the form below so we can get in touch with you and explain you what your options are.