The number of Russians who were granted investor visas this year has soared by 69 per cent, according to Home Office statistics. The visas gave foreigners from outside the EU a fast track to residence and citizenship in return for buying gilts worth £1m to £10m.In the first nine months of the year, 162 investor visas were granted to Russians, compared with 96 in the same period of 2013, the figures show. The whole of 2013 saw only 118 investor visas granted to Russians, according to the data, which were first reported by The Sunday Times.
Vladimir Putin is clearly concerned about this trend, since at his big annual presser last week he promised that oligarchs who have already spirited their money away will be allowed to bring it home with no questions asked. The quickening pace of capital flight, though, suggests that it may not stop any time soon.For its parts, the UK is doubling the minimum amount required for an “investment visa” to £2m and reducing the proportion of the money that can be put into real estate. That may do a little bit to disincentivize some, but given the political and financial instability in Russia, it’s “move it or lose it” for a lot of people.It’s very interesting that today the two countries where rich people are trying hardest to get out are Russia and China. Capital, like water, takes the path of least resistance.