Russia and China are the big losers when it comes to exodus of millionaires, with Russia set to lose 15,000 millionaires and China 13,000 to emigration this year. For Russia, that represents 15 percent of its millionaires, which suggests that those who have the means are departing a country engulfed by the logic of war, political oppression, and isolation from the West.  

For China, the 13,000 represent a more palatable one percent of all millionaires, but the rising the numbers of emigrants suggests that the wealthy are increasingly tetchy about a slowing economy, and mistrustful of a political climate increasingly autocratic and nationalistic. Another factor might be the anxiety of being caught up in the sweeping anti-corruption drive that has claimed the scalp of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of officials and businesspeople in the past decade.

Large numbers of millionaires are also expected to move to ‘the three Ms’: Malta, Mauritius, and Monaco

Andrew Amoils, New World Wealth

Superyachts in Vittoriosa Creek in the Grand Harbour belonging to superrich

The projections on millionaires seeking fresh pastures – via so-called golden visas or golden passports – is found in the latest quarterly report by investment migration specialists Henley & Partners.

Infographic from Henley & Partners report: blue are countries getting most millionaire emigrants by number, red are the top countries losing most millionaires by numbers - click to enlarge

The key analysis of the report was written by Andrew Amoils, Head of Research at New World Wealth, a South African company that specializes in global intelligence on wealth. He wrote that “affluent individuals are extremely mobile, and their movements can provide an early warning signal into future country trends.”

That suggests that wealthy people in countries with net negative outflows of millionaires are anxious over national developments, trajectories, or events. Amoils grounds his analysis most strongly in economic outlook, but political events in places such as Russia and China obviously contribute to the economic uncertainty.

Amoils writes: “The top 10 destinations for net inflows of high-net-worth individuals in 2022 are projected to be the UAE, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, the USA, Portugal, Greece, Canada, and New Zealand. Large numbers of millionaires are also expected to move to ‘the three Ms’: Malta, Mauritius, and Monaco.”

In his analysis of Malta, he focuses on citizenship by investment – passport sales, or so-called golden passports – and writes that “approximately 300 millionaires are expected to move to Malta in 2022.”

Yet Malta’s golden passport has entered its sunset years as the EU moves to shut down these schemes – Malta remains the only country in the EU to have such a programme – and Russians and Belarusians are now precluded from Malta’s citizenship by investment programme.

Comparison of Malta's three golden residence permit requirements - click to enlarge

It’s the Permanent Residence Programme that is now thriving in Malta. An investigation by this website has found that in the five-year period ending in 2021, 7,576 permanent residencies were granted in Malta on the back of the programme. Nine out of ten of those were Chinese nationals.

The United Arab Emirates has climbed to top spot for millionaires abroad after Russians have been shut out of the EU due to the Ukraine war.

Media reports are now rife of oligarchs sanctioned by the EU, UK and US in the wake of the Ukraine war moving their superyachts and wealth to the UAE. 

Something of a playground for the wealthy – for as long as you keep appearances of conservatism in public – the UAE also has the attractiveness of low taxes and financial secrecy, although this may change now after the Financial Action Task Force greylisted the UAE last March.

Dubai has taken top spot for millionaire emigrants after closure of EU to Russian millionaires seeking golden visas

The pattern for international flows of millionaires shows movements away from troubled, underdeveloped countries, to countries in the West that are stable and modern, or other jurisdictions that offer access and financial secrecy.

The only country that bucks this trend is the UK. Although the UK attracts millionaires, its inflow versus outflow has been in the negative territory for the past few years. Brexit is the main reason for this.

Andrew Amoils of New World Research writes that most British emigrants “are expected to move to the EU (Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Malta, and Monaco especially). Significant numbers are also expected to move to Australia, the UAE, and the USA.”

Malta superyachts Valletta wealthy residents passports
Superyachts moored off Fort St Angelo in Grand Harbour

He added: “The Mediterranean residence by investment trio of Portugal, Greece, and Spain are attracting the most attention from the Brits, and in that order. All three countries offer a great lifestyle, attractive real estate options, and visa-free travel across Europe’s Schengen Area — a big post-Brexit drawcard now that travel is back.”

Consultations by this website among industry sources suggest that Malta is losing out to other destinations in the Mediterranean among British millionaires because of the country’s bad reputation. Rampant development, widespread corruption, greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force, and high-risk (of money laundering) listing by the British government has dampened Malta’s attractiveness among the British.

Portugal continues to take top spot in Europe for attracting wealthy investors from a range of countries, including the UK, South Africa, Turkey and Brazil.

One of the executives of Henley & Partners, Dominic Volek, wrote in the report that the figures given in the report “focus only on people who have truly moved — namely, those who stay in their new country more than half of the year — and are therefore on the conservative side. Recent turmoil is causing this to shift, however, and more investors are considering moving their families to other countries for a range of reasons, from safety and security, to education, to healthcare, and even crypto-friendliness.”

This is something that is set to become determining in the EU, which is working on a directive or rules to regulate the residence by investment programmes. The European Parliament passed a resolution last March calling on the EU Commission to formulate rules that help tackle money laundering, corruption, and tax evasion risks of ‘residence by investment’ (RBI) schemes. It also called on the “requirements for minimum physical residence (for applicants) and active involvement, quality, added value, and contribution to the economy (for their investments).”

As Henley & Partners report shows, the recent turmoil is now driving this trend towards actual emigration, or at least spending more than half the year in destination countries. Within Malta's tax rules, this would make such residents liable to pay tax in Malta and become better integrated.

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