Wealthy Russians in Britain face new visa crackdown after Salisbury Sun

Wealthy Russians in Britain face new visa crackdown after Salisbury
Sun 9 Sep 2018 – Th e Guardian
Scheme has allowed hundreds of oligarchs and Putin allies to make UK their home
Roman Abramovich: the Chelsea FC owner has already fallen foul of the clampdown, having withdrawn his application for a new visa. Photograph: Paul Terry/JMP/Rex
The right of more than 700 wealthy Russians to live in the UK is under review as the government mulls new ways of curtailing the power and influence of the Kremlin following the Salisbury poisonings.
Home Office sources have told the Observer that ministers believe there may need to be further restrictions on the issuing of visas to overseas investors. This follows a decade when hundreds of well-connected Russians, many of whom are allies of Vladimir Putin and include several prominent oligarchs, have been allowed to make the UK their home in return for investing as little as £1m.
Kremlin critics and anti-corruption groups, who have long complained that the UK has made it too easy for Putin’s allies to reside in the UK, welcomed confirmation of the crackdown.
It comes at the end of a week when Theresa May said the government had concluded that two officers from the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, were responsible for the poisoning in March of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, an act she said was almost certainly approved “at a senior level of the Russian state”.
The Home Office is conducting a review of tier 1 investor visas, the use of which was heavily curtailed three years ago amid concerns they were being issued to people whose wealth had been achieved by corruption.
Under the changes introduced in 2015, which included raising the investment requirement to £2m, applicants could be asked to confirm the origins of their wealth, something that saw a substantial tailing off in approved applications.
Theresa May tells the House of Commons the Skripal poisonings were almost certainly approved “at a senior level of the Russian state”. Photograph: Mark Duffy/UK Parliament/PA
A Home Office spokesman declined to comment on the review’s findings. But it is understood that the Home Office believes a further shake-up of the visa system may now be necessary as tensions between the Kremlin and London continue to rise.
A Home Office source confirmed that the review, the third in four years, extends back to 2008, when the tier 1 scheme was introduced under the Labour government, which means it involves scrutinising in excess of 3,000 visas, more than 700 of them issued to Russian investors.
The source said: “We are reviewing all tier 1 [investor] visas granted before 5 April 2015, some of which are issued to wealthy Russians. We have not ruled out making further changes to the tier 1 investor route in order to ensure that it continues to work in the national interest.
“The government keeps all immigration routes under review and has the ability to curtail a visa where we find evidence of serious wrongdoing,” the source added.
One prominent oligarch who appears to have already fallen foul of the clampdown is the Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, who withdrew his application for a new visa as relations between the UK and Russia soured.
“We have been calling on the government to reassess recipients of the tier 1 visa to make sure that their entry to the UK was not predicated on suspicious wealth,” said Rachel Davies Teka, head of advocacy at Transparency International, an anti-corruption organisation. “We are therefore delighted that the government now appears to have committed to carrying out these checks.
“During its first seven years in operation, the tier 1 investor visa scheme was wide open to abuse by corrupt individuals as very few – if any – checks were carried out on the source of those investments.”
Davies Teka added: “In this period over 3,000 individuals were granted a visa, each investing a minimum of £1m. Our research found that almost a quarter of those were from Russia, a state associated with high levels of corruption risk. This could mean that over 700 wealthy Russians gained UK residency between 2008 and 2015, without proper checks over the source of their wealth that allowed them to secure that visa.”
The ‘golden visa’ deal: ‘We have in effect been selling off British citizenship to the rich’
The move will also be welcomed by MPs who have criticised the visa system. Writing on the Conservative Home website last week, Bob Seely, who sits on the Commons foreign affairs select committee, called for a change to “our visa regime so we make it easier for ordinary Russians to come here and more difficult for oligarchs, rather than the other way around. At the moment, our visa regimes to too many countries reward kleptocrats and punish ordinary people. Let’s flip this around.”
The visa crackdown is one prong in the government’s response to the novichok attack in Salisbury.
There are claims that the National Crime Agency is looking at issuing a number of unexplained wealth orders to Russians living in the UK, a new form of sanction that could result in some of them having their assets seized.

9 execs and entrepreneurs share the inspirational quotes that changed their lives for the better

1. ‘Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.’
This quote speaks to the one trait all successful entrepreneurs share: the ability to pivot when things go wrong. High achievers don’t break their stride, even when failure is staring them right in the face; instead, they realize their setback only brings them one step closer to accomplishing their ultimate goal. All my best successes have come on the back of my greatest failures.
2. ‘Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.’
When I read this quote many years ago, I’d spent too much energy resenting someone who’d rewarded my many years of generosity with betrayal. It was constantly on my mind, and I had a hard time getting over it. Then, I figured if Nelson Mandela [to whom this quote is commonly attributed] could spend 27 years in prison and not hate his enemies, I could do the same.
3. ‘Success is failure turned inside out.’
I keep this anonymous quote framed on the wall in my office. It’s a daily reminder to embrace failure instead of fearing it. Success is the inverse of failure, not the lack of it. You succeed when you take on an obstacle, and you flip it. First, you have to embrace the obstacle, though. Sadly, most people are plain afraid to fail, so they never leave their comfort zones or attempt something challenging. Other people get so stuck in their past mistakes that they can’t learn from them.
Failure is a tremendous teacher. It encourages better thinking and forces you to look back and ask, “What went wrong?” It also shapes you as a person; it makes you resilient. It educates you in ways success simply can’t.
4. ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’
We’re living in a perpetual state of information overload. Be it the 14,000-plus advertising messages blitzed at us every day, or the incessant dings of email and social media, our attention is in constant demand. While simple, this quote reminds me to cut through the noise and do whatever it takes to begin the process of realising my greatest goals. This could be as basic as whiteboarding an idea or running a sample Facebook ad to test a sales hypothesis.
There’s immense power in just getting started. I often counsel my team and the CEOs that I mentor with this phrase: “Action drives momentum, momentum drives results.” So the next time you feel stuck, push yourself to take the first step. The magic of momentum will work for you!
5. ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’
This phrase seems overly simplistic, but when applied to business, it helps you to take greater risks and avoid false assumptions. With marketing, there will always be new software, platforms, and trends that my team and I are not familiar with. We make it a priority to continually educate ourselves.
For example, millennials currently make up 70% of all Snapchat users, so I forced myself to learn more about the platform to understand its marketing potential for our clients. If you’ve settled into a comfort zone of knowledge, it’s time to broaden your horizons. When you accept the fact that “you don’t know what you don’t know,” you can attain the valuable information you didn’t even know you were missing.
6. ‘You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.’
This Jim Rohn quote has been game-changing for me. I was fortunate enough to hear Rohn speak for the first time at a live event in Atlanta during my early twenties. I was a young, budding real estate professional who wanted to strike it rich but didn’t quite know how.
This quote continues to be a reminder that success is always a reflection of the value you provide. Ultimately, you don’t get paid for the hour, or the job, or the project, or the deal. You get paid for the value you bring. If you want to earn more money, or you want your company to make more money — heck, if you want almost anything — all you have to do is provide enough value to get it!
7. ‘Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.’
This Gary Vaynerchuk quote has inspired me to lead our companies to the next level by leveraging relationships. When you’re the one to give first in a relationship, you quickly build rapport. One way to do this is to offer a sweetheart deal to an important prospect or strategic partner. Another is to connect people in your industry when there’s a mutually beneficial match. Your network will quickly take notice of your actions and word will spread to their networks, possibly leading to endless opportunities.
The key to this strategy lies in not expecting anything in return for the value you provide. I’ve done many more favours than I’ve received, but the favours that circle back end up being worth exponentially more than I ever imagined.
8. ‘Burn the ships.’
This saying dates back to 1519 when the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico. He brought with him 500 soldiers and, upon arrival, made history by destroying his ships. This sent a clear message to his men: There was no turning back.
Two years later, he succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire. The idea behind “burn the ships” is the same as “succeed or die.” Your outcome is always based on your level of commitment to achieve great things. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever change course or decide that a current pursuit isn’t working. However, by leaving the ships in the harbour, your people will see that you’re not fully committed to the transition. If you’re not fully committed, why should they be? By removing any available path back to the previous way, your team will become as fully invested as you.
Look inside yourself and see where you’re struggling to commit. Is it because the ships are still in the harbour? Burn ‘em. Force commitment. Watch what happens.
9. ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’
This quote has been tremendously impactful for my clients and me. I meet most of my clients when they are going through the worst time of their lives. They’re either in jail or recently bailed out and facing criminal charges. As a criminal defense attorney, it’s my job not only to fight the charges, but to also walk with them through hell.
What I’ve come to know is that life is a full-contact, beautiful and brutal sport where nobody gets out alive. At the beginning of a crisis, it inevitably feels like there’s no way out. But if you can summon the energy to put one foot in front of the other, and keep going, eventually you will find a solution.

Gigaba fights to clear Gupta association

Gigaba fights to clear Gupta association
2018-09-09 – City Press
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will head to Parliament this week emboldened by an interim report that does not single him out in the Gupta naturalisation saga.
Gigaba is one of five people who have been called to give evidence before Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs this week. It is holding a three-day investigation into the process followed in the naturalisation of the Gupta family.
Parliament announced this week that three days would be set aside to probe the matter of the Guptas further. Former home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni and former home affairs employee Gideon Christians are two of the five to be called.
In the interim report, which is the first phase of the probe, Christians is repeatedly cited for having close dealings with the Gupta family and its associates. Christians, who worked for the SA High Commission of New Delhi, also features repeatedly in the leaked Gupta emails.
The draft report of Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs points to a need for further investigations and lists number of people “identified for further clarity”.
The list of 20-plus names includes former home affairs ministers Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, with other former and present officials from the department. A number of Gupta employees and associates who also made the list include Nazeem Howa (former group chief executive of Gupta-owned Oakbay), Ashu Chawla (former chief executive of Gupta-owned Sahara Computers) and the infamous brothers themselves, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta.
There are a total of 26 questions seeking further clarity on the processes taken by the home affairs department that allowed all three Gupta brothers and their relatives to enter South Africa.
The report raises “legal concerns” in the application of the policy that permitted Gigaba to grant naturalisation to Ajay Gupta upon appeal.
The Gupta brother had initially been denied naturalisation on the basis he applied with his family and two members (his mother and wife) were denied, preventing the collective application from being successful. Although Ajay personally met the requirements, he was denied on the basis that the two family members did not.
“It is common cause that the minister has the power, in law, to grant a certificate of naturalisation to a person who has not fulfilled the residential requirements under the act. The act is clear that such a power should be exercised only in “exceptional circumstances” and yet it does not define what those circumstances are,” the report reads.
“Although the existence of an investment is a matter of fact, whether that investment constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ under the act is an exercise of a value judgement.
“At any given point there are thousands of persons who invest in South Africa and it cannot be that all of them would be entitled to ‘early’ naturalisation by virtue of their investments.
“From the reading of the submission approved by the minister for the naturalisation of the Gupta family, it is difficult to make a determination as to what was considered ‘exceptional’ in this instance.”
The report notes a “pattern of manipulation” of home affairs by the Gupta family in granting visas to some of the family’s employees.
“For someone who has been so loudly vilified by the opposition and sections of the media as one of the key enablers of the Gupta state capture project, it is most curious that Gigaba is yet to be confronted with even a single direct allegation of improper conduct on his part,” a source close to Gigaba said.
“This is someone who has already appeared in front of three separate tribunals – the parliamentary Gupta naturalisation inquiry, the parliamentary Eskom inquiry and the Nugent Sars [SA Revenue Service] inquiry – and provided a comprehensive account of his tenure in Cabinet, which not even his fiercest detractors had been able to undermine on the grounds of irregularity, irrationality or incompetence.
“So prejudiced are some of his detractors that they have even gone ahead and rewritten the history of the Nugent inquiry to hide the fact that it is actually his brainchild,” the source said.
What will the inquiry discover about the Gupta family’s naturalisation? Will Malusi Gigaba be cleared?

Visas for South Africa: Three ways Home Affairs will make it easier to visit SA

2018-09-07 – The South African
The numbers don’t lie, and the government know that making visas for South Africa easier to apply for will boost the tourism industry.
For many, visiting Mzansi doesn’t just take a lot of saving up, but it requires an inhuman amount of paperwork and a convoluted application process, too. However, the powers that be are now acknowledging that visas for South Africa need to change.
Coming to SA can be complicated for both tourists and businesses alike. Given that around 10% of South Africa’s economy is based on tourism, the visa nightmare is costing the country money: When you’re in a recession, you can’t behave like this.
So plans are being put in place to right this wrong. But what’s going to happen? Well, we’re at a tentative, early stage so far. But all the right noises are coming from the government.
Changes coming to visas for South Africa:
Get rid of the complications
It’s simple, really. The more annoying something is to complete, the less chance you have of going through with it. As BusinessTech report, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom is determined to strip back some of the strict policies on which documents are required to enter SA.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba also rolled back the need for unabridged birth certificates back in July. We can tell you now, they are a nightmare to find if you don’t have them readily available.
Hanekom outlined the cost of “red-tape”. Restrictions were lifted on Brazilian and Indian visitors, and guess what? The amount who came to Mzansi rose. When more requirements were put in place for Chinese tourists, there was a significant drop in their numbers, too. The stats really do not lie:
“In 2017, after the decision that visas would no longer be required for Russian tourists, Russian visitors increased by 52%. In sharp contrast to this, after we imposed a visa requirement on New Zealand, the numbers dropped by 24%.” – Derek Hanekom.
Bring in e-visas
What is an e-visa? Set for a trial release in March 2019, this will introduce the digital capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicant’s biometrics in South Africa and abroad. So instead of traipsing around for every piece of paper you need and submitting it in person, this process will be carried out online.
However, applicants still need to appear before a Home Affairs official to get biometrics taken.
Once this is completed, they are given a secure code printed on the letter of acknowledgement you receive. Travellers must keep this handy because it contains all your data and travel status. That code will then be scanned upon arrival here in South Africa.
Make it more business-friendly
Money talks. Tourism employs 1.6 million people in South Africa, and anything that can empower one of the country’s strongest performing micro-economies must be explored.
However, as BusinessLive report, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane confirmed on Thursday that making visitation easier for workers is something her department will be looking in to as well.
Cyril Ramaphosa is set to release details on a stimulus package to save South Africa’s sinking-ship economy, and an overhaul of visas for South Africa is right at the top of the list.

Zimbabweans in limbo after giving Home Affairs asylum papers

Zimbabweans in limbo after giving Home Affairs asylum papers
GroundUp – 6.9.2018

Special dispensation was meant to regularise Zimbabweans but left many undocumented for years.
In 2009, the South African government introduced a Dispensation of Zimbabwean Permit (DZP) to legalise the many Zimbabweans already inside the country because of the political and socio-economic situation at home.
Zimbabweans who until then had applied for asylum were encouraged to apply for a DZP. When applying their asylum documents were retained by the Department of Home Affairs. Almost a decade later, some of these Zimbabweans who gave up their asylum papers have still not received their DZPs.
As undocumented people they have been struggling to find employment, open bank accounts, study, enrol their children in schools, and get treatment at hospitals. They also face the threat of being arrested for being illegally in the country.
Approximately 295,000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit. Just over 245,000 permits were issued, with the balance being denied due to lack of passports or non-fulfilment of other requirements. The permits were valid for four years. In 2014, the DZP was renamed the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP); and then in 2017 renamed the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).
Judith (surname withheld), a widow, gave in her asylum papers in 2010, but never received a DZP. Documents show that Judith and her husband (who passed away in January) had applied for the DZP in Paarl on 30 December 2010.
Judith has lost her job at a wine farm. Her employer will only reinstate her if she provides a valid document for being in South Africa.
In 2011, her son was hit by a truck on his way from school and spent a long time in hospital. The Road Accident Fund processed his claim but will only pay the money into a bank account in his name, but he cannot open an account because of his undocumented status. He is 18 years old now and struggling to register for university.
Judith travelled from De Doorns, where she lives, to seek help from PASSOP (People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty), a community based non-profit organisation. Tendai Bhiza of PASSOP said it has about 20 people in its database facing similar challenges.
Judith said it has been difficult to pursue the DZP because of cash constraints, her living far from the city, and the fact that she had to care for her son after the accident. She also lost valuables and was displaced during the violence characterised by xenophobia in 2010.
“In August I gave up, packed my stuff and returned to Zimbabwe. I was ready to restart, make sacrifices but I failed to keep up with the Zimbabwean current situation,” she said. She found it too hard and returned to South Africa.
Phyllis (not her real name) gave up her asylum papers in 2010 in favour of the DZP. She set up a business selling brooms, detergents and mops. She has five children and is separated from their father. But her DZP was never forthcoming. Phyllis has had to put her children on her ex-husband’s refugee application. He is based in Durban. She has spent thousands of rands on transport, taking her children every three months to renew their asylum documents in Durban. She has now sent three of her children to her mother in Zimbabwe.
She registered her two youngest children at school using her sister’s ZEP permit. Her business is also registered in her sister’s name. All banking transactions are done through her sister’s account.
“While I don’t have anything to hide from my sister… it would be good to have privacy. But I can’t, since I rely on her documents for everything,” she said.
She is scheduled for surgery at Karl Bremer hospital and is worried she might be refused treatment (though this would be illegal).
Chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena said people who gave up their asylum documents in 2010 and never received the DZP were unable to get the 2014 ZSP or the 2017 ZEP. They are also unable to reapply for asylum.
“A person who did not get a DZP cannot be assisted. We are currently negotiating for the SADC Work Visa hoping that those who missed out will be accommodated,” said Mabhena.
GroundUp asked Home Affairs Media Manager David Hlabane if there was any hope for these people especially since they had forgone their asylum in favour of a DZP.
Hlabane replied: “Applications for the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) closed several months ago, in 2017. The Department is currently adjudicating applications that were received before the closing date, a process which should be completed around October 2018, therefore no new applications can be taken. Requirements for qualifying to apply for the ZEP were also stated publicly, including the condition that the applicants must be holders of the (old) ZSP.”

South Africa’s visa system to be overhauled

7 September 2018 – Business Tech
Communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane has confirmed that government is looking at a complete overhaul of the country’s visa system.
Speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday (6 September), Mokonyane said that this would include the visa rules governing children, scarce skills and turnaround times.
She added that the package is currently being formulated by government, and would be revealed shortly.
“An inter-ministerial team is looking at various aspects of the visa issue. That has been identified as one of the immediate things that are within the control of government and government can be in a position to resolve those,” she said.
“We also know that we have relationships with other countries where particularly in tourism (where) visas are not a requirement. We also need to look at other matters that are of concern, including those who intend to come and invest in South Africa,” she said.
Mokonyane said that the upcoming job and investment summits – as well as the proposed government stimulus package – would also provide further details on reforms needed to drive growth in the country.
Electronic visas
In May, minister of tourism Derek Hanekom said that his department was working hard alongside the Department of Home Affairs to push the country’s tourism numbers higher.
“One of the most effective ways to increase tourist arrivals is to make it easier for people to travel to our country,” he said.
“A simple analysis of the arrival figures for 2017 shows that while visitor numbers from visa exempt countries grew impressively, the opposite is true for visa-requiring countries.
“In 2017, after the decision that visas would no longer be required for Russian tourists, Russian visitors increased by 52%. In sharp contrast to this, after we imposed a visa requirement on New Zealand, the numbers dropped by 24%,” he said.
The promise of e-visas was first officially unveiled in a March 2018 parliamentary Q & A session – making it easier for tourists to enter into the country thanks to the online capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicants’ biometrics both locally and abroad.
The Department of Home Affairs has since confirmed that the first phase of the e-visa system will be piloted by the 31 March 2019.
It has further indicated that the rollout of phase one of the e-visa system will be at a foreign mission, embassy or local home affairs office yet to be determined, with the pilot phase initially covering temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, applicant notifications and biometric details, it said.

YOUTH 2018 – What are they up to?

YOUTH 2018 – What are they up to?
05 Spetember 2018 – The Good News
I attended the UCT Unilever Institute Youth Report 2018 workshop in Durban last week. The objective of this intensive in-depth research was to “understand what it is like to be a South African youth in 2018”
Good question – is it all doom and gloom?
The Stats – Quite scary
• Half of South Africa’s population is under 24 years old, in Japan the equivalent figure is 47, in Nigeria 18
• 64% of South African youth are considered poor, not living in poverty, but poor living in the bottom two quintiles or in LSM’s 1-4.
• The number of social grant recipients in 1999 was 22,000, now in 2018 the number is just over 12 million children receiving R410 a month
• Only 35% of South African children live with both parents, 40% with their mother only, 3% with their father only, and 21% in child headed households
• Currently 120,000 schoolchildren have fallen pregnant, 3500 are under the age of 14
• Education has improved in terms of access, but still 70% of schools have no functioning library, 60% of schools do not have a computer lab. But 92% of children attend an Early Childhood Development facility.
• Of 1 118 690 children entering school only 455 825 pass matric, and only 349 983 achieve a university exemption. But since 1996 attendance at tertiary institutions as grown by 445%
• Youth unemployment is a problem worldwide, the number of South African NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training – NEET) between 21 and 24 is estimated at 51%.
• Automation and the decline of the manufacturing sector in SA is a major challenge
The Future – Not without Hope
• Education is a major game changer; The number of graduates has grown from 400,000 in 1995 to approximately 1.1 million in 2011, contrary to popular opinion very few are unemployed
• Micro – privilege is a major game changer; living in the middle class, having access to a decent school, books and a culture of learning and achievement makes a considerable difference
• Proximity to opportunity is a major game changer; those use that grew up in an urban environment have considerably more opportunity than those in rural areas
• Use of social media is a major game changer; 93% have a social media account, 53% are spending more than two hours a day on social media, new trends are emerging that engage the youth, 59% feel that data costs are restricting their lives
• In 2018 the youth are living at home longer, studying longer, taking longer to find a job, and depending on their parents and family longer
• More so than previously youth feel under pressure from family, community, peers, remaining relevant, lack of money and securing a job.
And on the positive side
• 64% of youth feel generally content, 43% are using social media to find goods and services suited to themselves
• Short-circuiting the system has becomes a way of life
• Becoming socially conscious, particularly with regards to social causes is a major source of identity called “Staying Woke”
• Sustainability is a hot topic
• ‘Ownership of goods’ is giving way to seeking authentic and original experiences
• A growing belief, inspired by the failings of previous generations, that the future will be built on their own individual efforts
• 80% believe they have the ability to change their current circumstances
The Youth 2018 Mantra for getting ahead
• Be real – don’t downplay the pressures of today
• Be fluid – one size won’t fit all
• Be honest – ‘fake’ is easily exposed
• Be hopeful – today’s youth need you to believe in them
• Be proactive – it’s easy to be forgotten, change must be intentionally driven and visible
• Be brave – don’t get caught up in generational angst
The UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing’s Youth 2018 report was most interesting and very informative
I came away feeling anxious but nevertheless hopeful.