Former Portuguese minister cleared in visa corruption case

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A Portuguese court has acquitted a former minister of malfeasance and influence-peddling in connection with residence permits granted to investors from outside the European Union.

The court in Lisbon said Friday it was not proven that former Interior Minister Miguel Macedo had favored Chinese and Angolan investors in administrative procedures granting the so-called “golden visas.”

Golden visa programs around the world offer residence in exchange for investment but have been widely criticized for attracting fraud. Portugal’s program has drawn more than 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in investment, mostly from Chinese citizens, since 2012.

Macedo resigned in 2014 when the prosecutor brought charges against him.

Two other senior Portuguese officials were found guilty of corruption while two Chinese citizens were convicted of influence-peddling. Another Chinese citizen and an Angolan were acquitted.

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