Cyprus strips nine Russians of ‘golden passport’ citizenship

The government of Cyprus has revoked 26 so-called “golden passports” that were issued to foreigners in exchange for investments. According to the Cypriot news agency Sigmalive, this has affected nine Russians, eight Cambodians, five Chinese, two Kenyans, one Iranian and one Malaysian. The news outlet clarifies that only nine of those affected are the investors, the rest are their family members.

Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, announced on November 4 that the country’s government would revoke the Cypriot passports issued to investors if it became clear that they had been issued erroneously. The head of state explained that there have been 10-15 “egregious cases” in which persons suspected of money laundering or linked to authoritarian governments have been able to acquire golden passports. The president also promised to resign if it becomes clear that his own law firm also facilitated the illegitimate acquisition of passports.

Cyprus launched its scheme to grant citizenship in exchange for investments in the island state’s economy following a banking crisis in 2013. According to the country’s Ministry of Finance, 1,864 applications have been approved since then (not counting family members), which has brought €6.6 billion in investments into the economy.

The government stepped up the requirements for obtaining golden passports in February 2019. The required investment amount was increased from €2 to €2.5 million. The government also introduced two mandatory €75,000 contributions, one to the Research and Innovation Fund and one to the Corporation for Developing Land Resources for the purpose of building affordable housing, the local news agency Financial Mirror reported.

  Cyprus, Russia