NICOSIA – The question of rich Russians who keep putting their money in Cyprus isn’t going away in the wake of revelations oligarchs were hiding fortunes thee to avoid European Union sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
This time it’s a report by Russian media outlet RBC that some of the wealthy there looking to buy property abroad have named Cyprus – along with Hungary, which was reluctant over the sanctions, to buy property.
Citing research from the real estate agency NF Group, the media site said the two countries leap-frogged Turkey and the United Arab Emirates as favored spots for Russians to buy property and acquiring residency permits.
The company said that 61 percent of its clients want to buy real estate abroad in order to obtain a residence permit or citizenship in that country although Cyprus in 2020 ended its program after corruption revelations.
Hungary is a popular destination for investment due to its relative affordability, the rapid rise of house prices, and the fact that the country offers a route to a five-year residency permit via a property investment of around $234,000, said the Kyiv Independent in Ukraine.
Western sanctions in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine mean that Russians can only easily enter Europe with a valid residency permit and evade sanctions, the report noted.
Russians and Belarusians who are under sanctions or support the war in Ukraine are able to travel freely in the Schengen zone without visas due to residency offered to wealthy foreigners, the European Commission warned.
Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides told the Associated Press on Nov. 20 that he had invited financial crime experts from an unnamed third-party country to assist with investigations into the use of Cyprus as a means of circumventing sanctions against Russia.
There should be “absolutely no shadows” over Cyprus because it harms the ability to attract “quality” foreign investment, he said, the island long fighting its reputation as a haven to hide cash.