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Moldova criticized for offering citizenship for cash


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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Moldova's government was criticized by an anti-corruption group Thursday for offering citizenship to people who invest in the East European state.

Under an amendment, people who invest 100,000 euros ($117,000), buy real estate or lend the state 250,000 euros ($292,000) for five years, can obtain citizenship. Moldova's government needs to raise funds in one of Europe's poorest countries where the average monthly salary is $315.

Parliament amended current legislation on Dec. 26, which went largely unnoticed. It went into effect six months later.

Veaceslav Negruta of Transparency International Moldova told The Associated Press Thursday the measures could "legalize dirty money," in the former Soviet republic where corruption is endemic.

Analysts say that the law could also allow citizens from Russia and other former Soviet states or Iran to travel freely in the European Union.

Moldova's President Igor Dodon has visited Moscow and Tehran in recent months and wants to develop closer relations with their governments.

Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014. Moldovans don't need visas to travel to the EU.

The law states that up to 5,000 people can obtain citizenship by investing money, but does not clarify whether this is an annual figure or an overall one.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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