NICOSIA - One of the 26 rich foreigners stripped of so-called Golden Visas that gave them residency in Cyprus and a European Union passport, Kenyan billionaire Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa, went on Twitter to complain he was not hiding any wrongdoing.
“I wish to inform you of development regarding my Cypriot passport which has fueled inaccurate speculations in media reports, as well as on social media platforms,” he posted, The Cyprus Mail reported, noting that he said those who had their visas yanked will be reviewed.
“While I understand my passport is part of the audit process, having been granted before 2018, I have no doubt that my application is fully compliant with the regulatory requirements, he said, confident he would be cleared. “As a law-abiding citizen, I will fully support the mandated process in Cyprus with any requirements or further information needed to undertake the review swiftly,” he added of the permit and passport he got in 2016 although he's being investigated by Kenya for tax evasion.
Although no names of passport holders were officially released, the names were made public and showed that along with Ndegwa and his wife, the list include Malaysian Jho Taek Low who is wanted in connection with alleged financial crimes and eight Cambodians closely connected to the country’s authoritarian regime of Premier Hun Sen, the paper said.
Three Russians, their spouses and children are also among the 26.They are: Vladimir Stolyarenco, his wife and daughter, Alexander Bondarenko, his wife and two sons and Oleg Deripaska, his son and daughter. Chinese national Zhang Shumin, reportedly linked to a gold scam, his wife and three children are on the same list, the paper said, adding that all have the right to appeal.
While Cypriots in the diaspora who aren’t rich have to wait for residency permits or citizenships despite their heritage, Cyprus in 2013 – during the beginning of an economic crisis that required a 10-billion-euro ($11.01) international bailout – began selling the golden visas.
Foreigners who invest at least $2.2 million into the Cypriot economy can buy a passport and visa-free travel throughout the 28-country. The program has seen, including family members, some 4,000 people being approved for them.