NICOSIA – Cyprus’ scandalized and now-closed Citizenship by Investment (CIP) program has now seen 10 more residency permits and golden passports given rich foreigners being yanked after a review.
The government has steadfastly refused to reveal names of who paid to become Cypriot citizens despite the scheme seeing revocations after criticism it had led to use by criminals and money launderers.
The withdrawal of citizenship from three investors as well as seven of their dependents comes following the investigation conducted by the Interior Ministry, according to the Deputy Government Spokeswomen, Niovi Parissinou, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported.
“In total, from October 2021 until today, the Council of Ministers decided to initiate the process of depriving 60 investors and 159 of their dependents of citizenship,” Parisinou said without explaining why the names weren’t given.
Besides these cases, she said, authorities in Cyprus have already taken Cypriot passports from six individuals with a number of names being reported by major media although the program had been defended by President Nicos Anastasiades.
Through the Golden Passport scheme, wealthy internationals were eligible to acquire citizenship in this country, provided they made an investment of at least 2.5 million euros ($2.46 million) with no report where the money went.
The program was very popular, attracting a large number of international investors, especially those from Russia and China but it began to unravel after a sting operation by the news site Al Jazeera.
That brought evidence of corruption and has seen several top officials and others involved in facilitating the passports facing criminal charges. The program gave 6,779 Cypriot passports, especially valuable as a member of the European Union.
A subsequent investigation found that 51 percent of them were given to people not eligible or supposedly able to qualify, suggesting they were being sold willy-nilly to boost the economy and companies helping get them.
It was also reported that 81 providers of naturalization services are being investigated by tax officials after the Audit Office found Cyprus lost 204 million euros ($200.85 million) through the Value Added Tax (VAT) revenues.
That was because 1,298 investors bought mansions and luxurious apartments for 1.6 billion euros ($5.8 billion) but did not use them to reside permanently as was allegedly required, no report whether anyone checked anything.