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Current Affairs

Golden passport scheme of Cyprus

Date: 15 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Cyprus has scrapped a lucrative programme granting citizenship to wealthy investors, known as Golden passport.

 

Background

The decision comes amid new allegations that a top state official and a veteran lawmaker were implicated in attempts to bypass strict vetting rules and issue a passport to a fictitious investor with a supposed criminal record.

 

Details

  • The program has attracted many foreigner investors because a Cyprus passport automatically grants its holder citizenship access to the entire 27-member European Union.

  • Around 4,000 Cypriot passports have been issued to investors under the program, generating more than 7 billion euros ($8.25 billion).

  • The Cyprus government has conceded that mistakes were made and has beefed up eligibility criteria in recent years.

  • The most recent changes that lawmakers approved in August include new anti-money-laundering vetting rules and making it easier to revoke the citizenship of investors involved in or convicted of a serious crime.

  • Despite the stricter rules, the program continued to be hounded by allegations of corruption, kickbacks, and favouritism.

  • Cyprus Security and Exchange Commission recommended that authorities revoke citizenship from seven individuals who submitted forged documents in their application.

  • An independent committee has been set up to probe thousands of applications that were made since 2007. The investment program had gathered pace after 2013, when a financial crisis nearly brought Cyprus to bankruptcy.