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Politics

Cyprus Interior Minister Says Scandalized Golden Visa Scheme OK Now

NICOSIA — Cyprus’ tainted Golden Visa program that sold residency permits and European Union passports to rich foreigners who weren’t always vetted for money laundering or criminal activity has been reformed, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said.

Cyprus, along with Malta and Bulgaria, had been singled out by the European Union for lax controls that increased the changes for corruption and misuse of the program that also saw even those with Cypriot heritage having to wait for residency or dual citizenship if not rich.

Nouris said the the security of the scheme that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades defended until a Reuters report pointed out loopholes that led to the government revoking visas for 26 people, has been enhanced, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported.

“The candidates are carefully vetted when they apply, and the providers for the candidates are also vetted. Once candidates are approved, their conduct as residents in Cyprus is reviewed each year for 10 years, and if they break our laws or engage in other undesirable activities, the passport can be revoked,” Nouris said.

He also pointed to anti-money laundering legislation as another important improvement. “This is the law approved by the EU and implemented by the banks,” he said, adding as well that, “providers of candidates are vetted again every year by a special interior ministry committee. “Providers must show that they are respecting the rules,” unlike before.

In the past, only real estate investment was considered, another reason why the Cyprus program had been so widely criticized, the site noted.

“This is no longer the case. There is a wide choice of investment possible, and we privilege investment that develops young companies, high-tech, the stock market and other businesses – we hope the scheme will bring in funds that support innovation in our country,” Nouris pointed out.

Cyprus’ Golden Visa scheme offers citizenship in exchange for an investment of  2 million euros ($2.26 million,) including the purchase of a residence worth at least 500,000 euros ($563,985), in addition to another 150,000 euros ($169,195.)

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