July 25, 2020 - The purchase of apartments in a condo hotel or a hotel that is on a mixed business model, listed among development projects, is counted as an investment for which a Montenegrin passport can be obtained based on the Government's program of economic citizenship.
The information was confirmed to "Vijesti" by the Montenegrin Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA), which submitted information that the list of development projects in the field of tourism currently includes seven hotels given the green light for construction by the Government. Of these, four are based on the condo business principle, and three on the mixed business model.
According to the condo principle, four hotels will be built in Kolašin, namely "Kolašin Resort & Spa," "Breza," "Bjelasica 1450 Kolašin," and "K16." According to the mixed business model, "Boka Place" will be built in Tivat, "Kraljičina Plaža" in Miločer and "Durmitor Hotel and Villas" in Žabljak.
"Montenegrin citizenship can be acquired by investing in a development project in tourism, which includes the construction of a hotel / mixed complex, and thus the creation of a hotel according to the condo business model.
The applicant for citizenship individually decides on which of the tourism developments projects he will invest in," MIPA stated in an official communication.
According to the Tourism Act, the difference between a condo and a mixed hotel is that apartment owners in a condo-hotel must make them available to the hotel for ten months a year. In the combined business model, renting is voluntary.
The company "Adriatic Marinas" from Tivat has already offered real estate from the tourist complex "Boka Place," a new part of the luxury nautical-tourist resort Porto Montenegro. However, construction will begin only at the end of the year, as reported by world media.
According to the Government's decision, a Montenegrin passport can be obtained through investments in tourism projects, processing industry, and agriculture. So far, no plan has been reported for investment in the processing and agricultural sectors.
The three-year program for acquiring Montenegrin citizenship through investments started on January 1, 2019, and up to 2,000 passports can be awarded.
The MIPA explained that, according to the decision on acquiring economic citizenship (Article 11), the development project in tourism implies the construction of a hotel/mixed complex in the coastal region and Podgorica with a minimum of five stars, at least 60 accommodation units, a minimum investment of 15 million euros and minimum 80 new employees.
"For the northern and central region (except Podgorica) with a minimum of four stars, at least 35 accommodation units, a minimum investment of 5 million and a minimum of 25 new employees," the MIPA recalled.
The applicant can acquire citizenship if he has deposited 100,000 euros in an escrow account for the development of less developed municipalities, for the Law on Regional Development.
He may also acquire citizenship if he has paid at least EUR 450,000 into the account to invest in one of the development projects in Podgorica or the coastal region, or the amount of at least EUR 250,000 to invest in one of the development projects in the northern or central area of Montenegro.
A foreigner can apply for Montenegrin citizenship provided that they do not have a criminal conviction in Montenegro or any other country, and after an international eligibility assessment agent has given a positive opinion, including providing proof of origin of money intended for payment and investment following a Government decision.
The state has earned three million euros from the sale of passports within the economic citizenship project. In the budget, 15 million from the sale of passports were projected this year, and that budget item is zero after the rebalance.
Agency refuses to mention any names
The Agency could not say which investment the first passport was awarded within the project of economic citizenship.
"Issuance of the decision for admission and issuance of the passport upon admission to citizenship is the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Montenegro," the MIA replied.
As part of the economic citizenship project, the Ministry of the Interior issued 12 passports to foreign citizens, but their names remain undisclosed. In response to the question by "Vijesti" as to who had received citizenship, the department referred to the Law on Citizenship, which specifies to whom the Ministry of the Interior can provide information.
A Russian citizen obtained the first passport, officially confirmed by Henley & Partners, one of the three licensed agents for mediation in this project.
Deputy Prime Minister Milutin Simovic told parliament on Wednesday that he could not give names, citing the Law on Personal Data Protection. This was an assurance that had been given when the project was presented.
"These are families who have private business with proven credibility, proven origin of their investment money, and confirmation that they are not involved in activities related to terrorism," claims Simović.
Text by Marija Mirjačić