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Saturday, May 30, 2020
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Stripping citizenship of 26 investors problematic

THE PROCESS of revoking the citizenship of 26 foreigners who obtained passports under the island’s much criticised citizenship by investment scheme is proving more difficult than expected.

Informed sources have advised Phileleftheros that the law enabling a passport to be revoked excludes people who have acquired citizenship under the provisions of the scheme.

The Population Registration Law of 2002 (Law 141 (I) / 2002) section 113 states that the Council of Ministers may deprive a naturalised citizen of citizenship (by decree) if it is satisfied that the citizen:

“(a) By works or in words, has shown dishonesty or malice in the Republic, or

(b) in any war conducted by the Republic illegally engaged in a transaction or communicated with the enemy or engaged in or engaged in any operation which was carried out in his knowledge to assist the enemy in that war; or

(c) within ten (10) years of his registration or naturalization, he has been convicted in any country of imprisonment for a particularly heinous offense or for an offense involving moral obscenity, provided that the conviction in question is an offense which constitutes an offense in the Republic as well – and which is particularly heinous or morally abusive and carries a prison sentence.”

According to Phileleftheros, a review of investors who were granted citizenship before the stricter criteria were introduced last May has uncovered no further problem cases to date.

Cypriot citizenship was granted to 579 individuals during 2019, the majority of which resulted from applications submitted prior to the introduction of stricter criteria in May.

Also last year, Cyprus limited the number of naturalisations of investors granted under the citizenship by investment scheme to 700 a year.

Currently more than 700 applications are waiting to be processed and Phileleftheros reports that no new applications will be considered – at least for 2020.

No EU intervention (yet)

In early 2019 the European Commission set up a committee to create a common set of controls for member states offering citizenship by investment scheme, but progress has been very slow.

The committee’s aims were to develop safeguards including risk management procedures that take into account money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.

By the end of 2019, the committee had made little progress and their next meeting has yet to be scheduled. However, the Commission has stressed that it will continue to support the committee until it has found a common set of controls for member states.

Watch this space!

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