Chas Everitt – the international property group – on Sunday announced it was no longer involved with the Italy-based company that “offers” South Africans fast-tracked Italian residency.
The move comes after the international property company realised it had been sucked into a mafia-like ring targeting South Africans wanting to emigrate to Italy.
Media reports on how Chas Everitt was able to assist South Africans fast-track Italian residency for 100 000 euro caught the attention of the Embassy of Italy in Pretoria.
On Friday, the embassy warned of false reports that appeared in the “BusinessTech and Property24” regarding a “special programme for South Africans to obtain Italian residency, and passport”.
“It’s a scam! One cannot get residency and passport that way, and to get it one does not need to spend as much as it is reported,” warned the embassy.
“There is no ‘new programme’ to get the Italian residency and passport, nor a programme offered specifically to South African citizens.”
The embassy added: “No partnership exists in South Africa between the Italian authorities and Chas Everitt.
“No programme is centered on Umbria, which is merely the region where the company Arkadia – falsely claiming to cooperate with the Italian authorities – is based.”
On Sunday Chas Everitt admitted it had agreed “on good faith” to introduce South African clients to the company offering a fast-track Italian residency programme.
“However, last week we were made aware that the programme might not be authentic,” said Everitt, adding that his company “immediately suspended our services as one of several companies acting as introducers”.
Rejecting the role of “introducer” the Embassy of Italy in Pretoria said there was “no need of intermediary”, nor was it authorised to use any.
The Consulate-General of Italy in Johannesburg and the Consulate in Cape Town and the sole authorised visa outsourcer VFS Global only accept visa applications presented directly by the applicants.
“The only fee to be paid to apply is the ‘type D’ visa fee of 120 euro (plus a tiny commission if VFS is used),” explained the embassy.
“Once one has obtained this visa, establishing his or her residence in Italy and obtaining the residence permit is extremely straightforward and needs no intermediation either.”
As a result of the embassy stance, Everitt said it was making its clients who might have sought participation in the fast track Italian residency programme aware of the scam.
“We would also like to point out that we have not at this time been enriched in any way nor received any commission pertaining to our role as an intermediary introducer,” said Everitt.
He said the property company did not expect to receive any financial benefit in future, “due to the fact that we have now completely distanced ourselves from this offering”.