THE IMMIGRANT INVESTOR Programme (IPP) is to close to further applications from close of business tomorrow.
Justice Minister Simon Harris obtained approval from Government today for the closure of the scheme.
The IIP was introduced by the Irish Government in 2012. It was a pathway for non-EEA nationals to secure an immigration permission in Ireland on the basis of long-term investment in a range of options approved by Government.
Applicants to the IIP were required to be high net worth individuals with a personal wealth of at least €2 million.
Applicants were required to invest a minimum of €1 million for at least three years or €500,000 as part of an endowment.
The funds used for an investment had to be from the applicants own resources and not financed through a loan or other such facility.
Applications will no longer be accepted from close of business tomorrow.
The closure of the programme will not affect existing projects or individuals already approved under the programme.
The Department of Justice will continue to monitor existing approved projects in relation to the delivery and for compliance with the terms of the programme.
IIP applicants that are on hand at close of business tomorrow which are awaiting a decision will still be considered. There are appoximately 1,500 cases on hand.
“The Immigrant Investor Programme was established over a decade ago during a time of unprecedented economic difficulty to stimulate investment in Ireland that would be of strategic and public benefit to the State,” Justice Minister Simon Harris said.
“Since its inception, the programme has brought significant investment to Ireland and has been operated by my Department to the highest professional standards,” Harris said.
However, he said “it is important that we keep all programmes under review including any implications for wider public policy, such as the continuing appropriateness and suitability of this programme for cultural, social and economic use”.
Harris said the Government has also taken on board a number of reports and findings from international bodies such as the EU Commission, Council of Europe and OECD on similar investment programmes.
“Taking all of this into account, and informed by both internal and external reviews, I have recommended that it is now timely to close this programme to new applications, and have received Government agreement to close it for further applications from close of business tomorrow,” he said.
The Irish Times reported last week that Department of Justice officials had called into question the scheme.
It reported that a surge in applications to the IIP came amid speculations that the government might scrap the scheme.
The Journal also reported on Saturday that Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has called on “all necessary State agencies” to examine the operations of the Nuremore Hotel & Country Club in Monaghan where staff recently held a sit-in protest in a dispute over wages.
Last December, staff at the Nuremore Hotel & Country Club staged a sit-in protest due to wages allegedly not being paid on time.
Staff said the issue had been “going on for months and months” but hotel management said this was due to an issue outside of its control.
The hotel was acquired in February 2020 by the Kylin Prime Group, an investment firm founded by Chinese entrepreneur Kai Dai.
Dai also founded a cash-for-visa firm which offers investors an opportunity to avail of Irish residency under the IIP.
Carthy said this turns the issue from one of local to national importance.
“We have to get some answers in respect of what oversight is in place for businesses that are operating under the benefit of the immigrant investor program, because this is a national scheme.
“This is a provision that has been made to allow people that wouldn’t otherwise be in a position to reside in Ireland to do so.
Carthy has asked the Public Accounts Committee to make initial inquiries and added that he will be using his position on that body to “make inquiries of all the relevant departments in terms of their role”.
“If it’s a case that there’s a state agency or department that isn’t being robust enough in terms of the oversight of this situation,” said Carthy, “then I would suspect the Public Accounts Committee will agree to hold a hearing on it.”
“That is why I’ve asked the government for all necessary state agencies to take control of the situation.”
Carthy added: “They can’t just allow people to have residency on the basis that they make an investment, if that investment then isn’t managed in an appropriate way.
“They can’t have a situation where they’re facilitating wealthy investors to come into the country, but then wash their hands of how those investments are actually operating.”
With reporting by Diarmuid Pepper