Austria denies having citizenship-by-investment programme
Austria is denying ever operating a citizenship-by-investment programme, insisting that sections of the Maltese media and public officials are “misinterpreting” its laws.
“The Republic of Austria has never had such a programme and, consequently, we have never had to stop it,” Erik Dreymann, consul at the Austrian Embassy in Malta, said.
The only ‘programme’ Austria has is a provision in the Citizenship Act stating that citizenship can be granted to someone who has performed, and will continue to perform, “extraordinary services” to benefit the State.
This provision – article 10, paragraph 6 – has been in place since 1965, about 30 years before Austria joined the EU. Since summer 2011, the procedure has been under revision so no citizenships have been granted in this way for two-and-a-half years.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Labour ministers, parliamentary secretaries and MEPs have repeatedly insisted Austria has a citizenship-by-investment programme during interviews, press conferences and debates.
The government has cited Austria in defence of its own Individual Investor Programme, which grants outright Maltese citizenship in return for a €650,000 fee, plus an investment of €150,000 in government bonds and the purchase of property worth at least €350,000.
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