Golden Visa investment in 2015 was half that of the previous year with a spend dropping to €466 million, according to data from the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF).
Precisely, in 2015 the Permits for Investment Activity involved a spend of €466,259,798 representing a decrease of 49% compared to €921,314,178 in 2014.
Of the total, €418 million resulted from non-EU foreigners buying property for €500,000 or more. The year before the total for property was €840 million.
The slowdown in investment has been blamed to Operation Labyrinth which started in November 2014 and led to changes in the Golden Visa rules which added further bureaucratic steps to the detriment of applicants.
Last year, 766 foreigners were granted Golden Visas, less than half of the 1,526 assigned in 2014.
Since the programme started, 2,635 visas have been issued for the purchase of property, 149 for the transfer of capital and four by creating at least 10 jobs.
In February 2015, the former deputy prime minister, Paulo Portas, presented changes in the rules which extended foreign investment to areas such as urban rehabilitation and science projects, all of which came into force on June 30th, 2015.
The Foreigners and Borders Service suspended the process from July 1st as the old laws and the new laws caused a legal confusion that was only sorted out by July 16th when the Passos Coelho government approved amendments to the new law. These came into effect on September 3rd last year.
Operation Labyrinth which started in November 2014 led to the arrest of five of 11 defendants accused of corruption, a process that culminated in the resignation of the Minister for Internal Affairs, Miguel Macedo who claimed he had done nothing wrong, but later was arrested and questioned.
The current Socialist government has no plans to call a halt to the programme which offers already wealthy foreigners a tax free living in Europe and the right for themselves and family to travel freely within the Schengen area.
While the rest of Portugal's resident population pays for the fiscal ineptitude of previous governments through the strict application of income tax brackets, foreigners keen on a European lifestyle without the inconvenience of paying tax on their overseas incomes, welcomed the scheme as too good to be true, until they hit the bureaucratic insanity of a system that currently has a backlog that will take 5 years to clear with 4,000 applicants in the queue.