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Cyprus to Suspend 'EU Golden Passports' Scheme

BBC 15 Oct 2020

Cyprus is suspending a scheme that grants citizenship and guarantees visa-free travel throughout the EU for those who invest a minimum of €2m (£1.8m).


After reporters filmed Cypriot officials using the scheme to assist a fictional Chinese businessman with a criminal record.


One of those filmed was Cyprus's parliamentary speaker, who said he would step down until an investigation was completed.

The move comes into force next month.


Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, currently provides passports to non-EU nationals who make sufficient investments in the country.


Last year, Cyprus has revoked the "golden passport" bought by 25 foreign investors, including nine Russians, eight Cambodians and five Chinese.


The EU Commission told EU states to tighten checks on non-EU nationals who acquired citizenship through investments. Malta and Bulgaria operate similar schemes to that of Cyprus.


The commission said the program could be abused and used for tax evasion and money-laundering.


It added that applicants could acquire citizenship of Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria - and hence EU citizenship - "without ever having resided in practice in the member state".


EU citizens can move easily throughout the bloc, as well as live and work in another member state without the bureaucratic hurdles that non-EU nationals face.

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