Europe

Cyprus cabinet to revoke 45 passports in cash-for-citizenship scheme

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A person holds an image of a passport during a protest against corruption outside the Filoxenia Conference Center, currently hosting Cyprus parliament, in Nicosia, Cyprus October 14, 2020. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

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NICOSIA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Cyprus said on Friday it would revoke the passports of 45 people who obtained citizenship under a now discredited investment scheme that ran for more than a decade.

Almost 7,000 people obtained citizenship under the cash-for-passports scheme, championed by Cyprus's right-wing government till concerns about possible corruption highlighted in an expose on the Al Jazeera network forced its cancellation in 2020.

Friday's decision by Cyprus's Cabinet to revoke the passports of 39 investors and six dependents follows a recommendation by a government-appointed commission in June. read more

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"Cabinet further decided to investigate six additional cases, and scrutinise another 47 cases on the basis of set procedures," government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said in a written statement.

He did not name any of those whose passports were revoked.

A Cypriot passport grants visa-free travel, working and residency rights throughout the 27-nation European Union. The scheme was popular with Russians and investors from Asia.

Under the scheme, authorities would grant a passport to applicants meeting a minimum investment requirement, which had a price tag of 2 million euros ($2.43 million) in its final form.

The government-appointed commission, headed by a former Chief Justice, said the scheme had run in a vaccum for more than a decade without adequate oversight and no checks and balances.

It concluded that more than 53% of people who obtained citizenship under the scheme did so unlawfully.

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Reporting By Michele Kambas Editing by Gareth Jones

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