Cyprus to strip seven of citizenship in passports probe
07 Sep 2020

Cyprus is to start moves to strip seven people of Cypriot citizenship for violating the terms of a passport-for-investment scheme, the island’s president told AFP on Friday.

In the past “there were some deficiencies or loopholes in the programme. And that’s why we have adopted so many steps … to introduce more effective control mechanisms,” President Nicos Anastasiades said in an interview.

Cyprus began offering citizenship in exchange for substantial investment as far back as 2007, but the scheme was stepped up following the Mediterranean island’s 2013 economic crisis.

But Nicosia has faced pressure from Brussels to reform the scheme over concerns it may have helped organised crime gangs infiltrate the European Union.

Last month, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that dozens of those who applied for the so-called “golden passports” were under criminal investigation or international sanctions, or serving prison sentences.

But Anastasiades said Cyprus has been tightening up the rules since 2007, including banning cash payments in 2014.

Under the latest regulations, the government grants a passport in exchange for an investment of 2.5 million euros ($3 million).

Even before Al Jazeera published its story, some 30 people had been referred for investigation to a special committee to see if there were “any violations of our criteria”, Anastasiades said.

Read more by Agence France-Presse via France 24

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