Despite a successful attraction of some six thousand wealthy investors for this fast track to what was effectively British (and EU) nationality, the home secretary, Priti Patel, has decided abruptly to curtail the scheme to prevent “corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities”. She added that “henceforth zero tolerance will be shown for abuse of our immigration system in order to achieve a crackdown on fraud and illicit finance”. Future investors will have to join the immigration queue for an “innovator visa” which will be awarded only to those who can show that they will bring genuine professional skills to achieve a “tangible economic impact” rather than a passive holding of British investments and property (and making large donations to political parties and lobbyists !) .
No doubt this change of policy will cause chagrin to the lawyers and property dealers who have profited exceedingly well by serving these foreign investors . But it serves as an example for the Portuguese government to end its much criticised similar scheme and restore dignity and national pride to the intending migrants.
By coincidence, the Financial Stability Board (which is composed of fiscal government authorities in twenty four countries) has released a statement that “the crypto assets market poses a threat to global financial stability”. This reflects international concern that the new electronic currencies will cause significant disturbance to economies because of the many criminal and tax evasion activities of the secret investor-dealers. The Board considers that there is a potential to expose a financial crisis similar to that of 2008 but is unable to impose regulation and transparency on a market which is estimated to have a global capitalisation of €2.2 trillion. There is also environmental concern for the huge energy requirements for the maintenance of the “block chain”. For example, Bitcoin miners in Montana USA have revived a coal burning power plant solely to meet regional requirements despite this resulting in soaring CO2 emissions.
Crypto currencies will not just go away through failure. They have an important role to play in the overall financial system. But they must be managed and regulated by central banks and fiscal authorities until such time as a centralised body can be established to prevent disastrous losses by the world´s citizens.
Roberto Knight Cavaleiro