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Politics

Google’s Ex-CEO Schmidt Buying Cyprus Golden Visa, EU Passport

November 10, 2020

NICOSIA — Somehow getting in under the wire before the scandalous scheme was stopped, Google's former CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly is close to being granted a Golden Visa from Cyprus, which comes with a European Union passport.

Schmidt, 65, would be yet another rich foreigner to benefit from the program that ended Nov. 1, the site Recode reporting he likely applied before that, the visa granting a residency permit to those who have no Cypriot heritage but lots of cash.

Having the visa would also allow him to get around strict COVID-19 related travel bans in parts of the EU, another benefit for those who can afford to put up at least two million euros ($2.36 million) and hold property on the divided island.

The scheme has mostly been used by rich Chinese and Russian oligarchs, who also have put a fortune into Cypriot banks, the visa criticized for being susceptible to criminal activity and money laundering.

Schmidt, who was Google's top executive from 2001-11, is the 82nd richest person on earth with a net worth of $19.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Al Jazeera recently reported that Cypriot officials have “expressed a willingness to sell EU passports to criminals,” and the second-highest politician on the island resigned after being caught in a sting, along with a Member of Parliament, showing they would help obtain a visa for a Chinese national who told them he had a criminal record.

It could also reap him personal tax breaks but Recode said it's unclear why Schmidt, from Virginia, sought citizenship on Cyprus, but that it could be because of business reasons or to have a financial backup plan during the pandemic.

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