The growing capital flight from Hong Kong, a contingency plan for local residents in the face of the political crisis in the semi-autonomous region, has benefited the ‘gold’ visa regime in Portugal, revealed professionals in the sector.
“Clients from Hong Kong are no longer an exception and have become the rule in our office”, a lawyer from the firm Caiado Guerreiro, Rosendo Guimarães da Costa, based in Beijing for five years, told the Lusa agency.
“Previously, Hong Kong clients accounted for less than 5 per cent of total demand from China, but in the last three months they have accounted for around 80 per cent”.
Recently more events have taken place in the territory to attract investment, not only to Portugal, but also to Malta, Greece, Spain or Cyprus, other European countries that have similar regimes.
The Hong Kong press has also been reporting the phenomenon: last August, luxury real estate agencies cited by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) revealed growing requests for information on the purchase of properties in Portugal.
“We have seen more requests for information about properties in Portugal from Hong Kong buyers in recent months. Many see the Portuguese residence as an alternative option in Europe,” said List Sotheby’s director of operations, Binoche Chan, quoted by the newspaper.
Rosendo da Costa notes, however, that in the case of Caiado Guerreiro, most of the ‘gold’ visa application processes initiated by Hong Kong clients are done via capital transfer, in contrast to mainland clients, who invest mainly in real estate.
“Hong Kong clients invest mainly in investment funds, because it’s a net investment: a way of transferring money to Portugal that allows liquidity to be maintained”.
The lawyer also notes that clients from the Chinese semi-autonomous region always resort to family reunification, unlike some of the clients from mainland China. The law allows family reunification for ‘gold’ visa holders to descendants and ascendants, as long as they are their dependents.
The demand comes at a time when thousands of Hong Kong residents are opening bank accounts in Singapore and other financial centres as a contingency plan in the face of a prolonged period of turmoil in the territory.