Cypriot Lawmakers Give Themselves Golden Visa Oversight Role

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – With critics saying Cyprus is selling Golden Visa residency permits, which include passports to the European Union, with providing checks for criminals, money laundering and tax evasion, the country’s lawmakers passed a law giving them review of who gets them.

The law will come into effect on January 31, 2020 to give the government time to set the regulations, the Cyprus Mail said, although the government has been under withering criticism for not properly vetting rich foreigners effectively buying a kind of citizenship.

According to the law, the visas for public interest and foreign investors will still be permitted but under conditions set by regulations tabled to the House for approval and which will be published in the Official Gazette.

Greens’ MP, Giorgos Perdikis, whose party proposed the bill, said there were sectors of the economy in need of investment such as research and innovation and agriculture, but none were in the visa scheme.

Instead, the government tied investment to those buying or building luxury residences, most of which were related to the construction of the high-rises in Limassol where foreign-owned yachts are commonplace.

The European Commission had warned that programs of EU states, including Cyprus, to sell passports and visas to wealthy foreigners could help organised crime groups infiltrate the bloc and raise the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades had adamantly defended the scheme and said other countries programs weren’t as good and he wants to reserve the right for his country to do what it wants although it’s a member of the European Under and under bloc laws too.