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Citizenship for sale reports denied

The Cyprus Interior Minister has rejected press reports that the government is changing the rules for acquiring Cypriot citizenship by foreign investors by reducing the amount for large investments.

Citizenship for sale scheme

Source: South China Morning Post

INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos has denied press reports claiming that the rules governing the Government’s citizenship scheme for foreign investors have been relaxed, according to a report in Gold News.

The Minister noted that the only change was in the discretion of the Council of Ministers to decide in instances of large collective investments.

“Nothing of substance has changed. The criteria remain the same and just as strict because it is a matter of giving citizenship and we need to be aware that in essence we are talking about European citizenship given that Cyprus is a member of the EU,” Hasikos said in response to a question asked during a conference entitled “Could Cyprus become the second home for Chinese investors?”

According to Gold News, the Government scheme that entitles a foreign investor to acquire Cypriot citizenship requires the following financial criteria to be met:

  • Mixed Investments and Donation to Government Fund amounting to a minimum of €2.5 million; or
  • Direct Investments amounting to a minimum of €5 million. Investment can drop to €2 million for a special collective real estate purchase scheme of a total value of no less than €10 billion; or
  • Deposits in Banks operating in Cyprus amounting to a minimum of €5 million (personal deposits or deposits of privately owned companies); or
  • A combination of the above criteria amounting to €5 million
  • Business Activities
  • the applicant established a company administered in Cyprus and he/she made payments to the authorities (taxes etc.) and purchased business services for at least €500.000 on average per annum for the last 3 years before application.
  • In case the company’s central office is in Cyprus and employs 5 Cypriots, then the above is reduced to €350.000 per annum and in case of employing 10 Cypriots, it is further reduced to €200.000 per annum; or
  • Impaired Deposits in the Bank of Cyprus and/or in the Popular Bank if the applicant has impaired deposits amounting to a minimum of €3 million. In case of impaired deposits of less than €3 million, the applicant can    proceed to make additional investments under one of the above criteria

In addition to the criteria mentioned above, the applicant must fulfil the following conditions:

  • Hold a Clear Criminal Record from the country of origin or/and the Cyprus Police
  • Confirm that the applicant’s name is not included in the list of persons whose property is ordered to be frozen within the EU
  • Privately owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus, the cost of which must exceed the amount of €500.000 excluding VAT
  • Have at least one visit to Cyprus

The applicant does not become a tax resident in Cyprus, unless he/she spends more than 183 days in any one calendar year

  • The approval of Citizenship under the relevant Decision is granted by the Cyprus Council of Ministers
  • The application package is submitted to the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Finance assesses the financial criteria
  • The application of the spouse is submitted concurrently with the application of the main applicant. Upon the approval of these applications, children’s applications follow
  • After examination by the two Ministries, the application is presented to the Council of Ministers
  • The application processing usually takes 6 months
  • The Council of Ministers has complete discretionary power regarding these decisions

(Several questions have already been raised in the European Parliament about various “EU Citizenship for Sale” schemes adopted by Malta, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Latvia and Greece to sell residency rights in exchange for business investment, real estate or government bonds).

Readers' comments

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  • @Mike – here’s the report from the Cyprus News Agency on the subject (and yes – citizenship is for sale):

    Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos assured Thursday that the criteria for granting residence permits and Cypriot citizenship by naturalization to foreign investors have not been eased.

    In a speech during a conference on Chinese investors, Hasikos said the criteria remain strict, noting that “what is changing is granting flexibility to the Cabinet to decide when large investments are concerned”.

    He told the conference that the Cabinet approved two schemes on the issue. The first is to grant citizenship by naturalization to attract foreign nationals who invest in property on the island and have a stable income from overseas. The citizenship will be granted to foreign investors who purchase immovable property with a minimum value of 300 thousand euros.

    According to the scheme, the investor must maintain a bank account in Cyprus with a three-year deposit reaching 30 thousand euros and prove that he/she has a guaranteed 30 thousand euro income from overseas which will be deposited in a Cypriot bank. The citizenship covers both the investor and his/her spouse and children under 18.

    The second scheme, he added, is granting citizenship to foreign nationals in exceptional cases. The investors should make an investment of at least 5 million euro and maintain the investment in Cyprus for at least three years after receiving naturalization.

    Citizenship is also granted to investors whose deposits were subject to last year’s bail in by three million euros. These investors should have property on the island valued at half a million euro minumum.

    In late March 2013, the Cypriot authorities agreed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, collectively known as the Troika, on a €10 billion bailout.

    Source: Cyprus News Agency

  • Mike says:

    So in spite of all the where’s, whyfore’s if’s and but’s Cypriot Citizenship and therefore European Citizenship is available for sale. Or have I read it wrong?

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