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Cyprus Approves 390 Extra Golden Passports

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

Cyprus has admitted another 390 applicants for the golden passport after the citizenship-by-investment system was scrapped in November 2020, while Brussels' infringement proceedings against the system continue.

Cyprus Approves 390 Extra Golden Passports

Presenting his ministry's budget to the House of Representatives finance committee, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the government had approved 390 applications from foreign investors submitted before the scheme expired on November 1, 2020.

Nouris said that by July 31, 2021, he had forwarded to the Cabinet 1413 applications submitted through the disgraced Citizenship by Investment scheme, which stopped accepting new applicants on October 31, 2020.

Nouris told MPs that 390 applications were approved while 1023 were rejected.

He said 691 applications were submitted by investors and 722 by their relatives, adding that 1023 were rejected.

Asked about the EU's infringement procedure over golden passports, Nouris said, "We have made all the necessary statements and expect a response in the coming weeks."

In June, the European Commission had sent a reasoned opinion to Cyprus for failing to address earlier concerns.

It gave Nicosia two months to explain its measures to comply with EU rules or face legal consequences.

The European Commission said that "while Cyprus has lifted its regime and stopped accepting new applications as of November 1 2020, it continues to process pending applications".

In October, the EU confirmed that it had received a response from Nicosia under the ongoing infringement procedure against the Cypriot investment scheme and was currently examining it.

Brussels considers that Cyprus and Malta have failed to meet their obligations by setting up and running investor naturalisation programmes that offer citizenship in exchange for pre-determined payments and investments.

Last year, the Mediterranean island abandoned the golden passport system after Al Jazeera aired a documentary showing reporters posing as intermediaries for a Chinese businessman. He applied for a Cypriot passport despite having a criminal record.

Parliament Speaker Demetris Syllouris and an opposition politician MP were filmed allegedly trying to get the fugitive investor a passport.

They later resigned, although both affirmed that they were not guilty of anything.

Al Jazeera reported that dozens of applicants were under criminal investigation, had international sanctions imposed on them, or even served prison sentences.

A public inquiry found that the government broke the law countless times to grant citizenship to more than 6,700 people between 2007 and 2020.

The damning report said more than half (53%) of the 6,779 passports granted were awarded illegally, aided by a vacuum in due diligence or inadequate background checks.

The Cypriot passport system brought in over €7 billion during its lifetime from 2007.

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