Cyprus Passports To Be Revoked From Past Investors

In November 2019, Cyprus embarked on a legal process to revoke citizenship from certain individuals, following public news reports on several corrupt investors who have previously been approved under the citizenship by investment programme. On 24 June 2020, the Cypriot cabinet approved a number of legal amendments which would allow authorities to retrospectively revoke citizenship for up to 10 years. 

The Cypriot Government confirmed that 26 investors would be stripped of their Cypriot nationality. It is thought that Jho Low, the Malaysian fugitive, is amongst this number. He is said to have acquired a Cypriot passport shortly after the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal broke in exchange for a €5 million investment (the minimum threshold for the programme is €2million).

According to Cyprus Property News, the new bill gives the authorities the right to revoke citizenship of an investor who “is handed a jail sentence of more than five years in any country”, “if they are wanted by Interpol or Europol”, “if they do not comply with the criteria and additional preconditions set out, or subject to international sanctions”.

The announcement of the cabinet’s approval of the bill was questioned by legal experts in relation to the handling of personal data and compliance with GDPR. It is also thought that it will not be an easy process to revoke the citizenship of the above 26 individuals as a number of them are prepared to fight the decision in court.

Cyprus remains one of the few EU countries offering a full EU passport in exchange for straightforward investment without strict requirements on residency. Other member states have always questioned the credibility of the programme and Cyprus has been under scrutiny in the past regarding who has been allowed to acquire their passport. Under the new rules, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris confirmed that there will be tougher due diligence checks and that “the new regulations no longer leave the program open to ridicule, as some have done in the recent past, and leave no doubt as to its credibility”. The number of citizenships issued under the scheme will be capped at 700 per annum.

Discreet Law has extensive experience in assisting our clients with Cypriot citizenship applications by way of investment. Should you wish to discuss your eligibility for applying for Cypriot citizenship, or think your Cypriot citizenship may be revoked, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Discreet Law accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Discreet Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Discreet Law.

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