The Cypriot government has decided to rescind the citizenships of 45 individuals originally naturalized through the country’s erstwhile citizenship by investment program, the Cyprus Mail reported yesterday.
The decision follows the recommendations of an independent inquiry into cases of investment-based naturalization between 2007 and 2020, which highlighted 102 cases of concern.
“The cabinet decided to launch the revocation process for 39 investors and six members of their families, as well as canceling a previous cabinet decision to naturalize an investor and a dependant family member,” Marios Pelakanos, a government spokesman, told reporters yesterday.
A further six instances, said the spokesman, were under examination, while another 47 were being “monitored”.
The 39 investors and six dependents will now lose their citizenships in the absence of a court-upheld appeal of the decision. Though they will receive no compensation, they will not be deprived of their principal investment, typically prime real estate.
Former Supreme Court judge Myron Nikolatos, who has been in charge of the independent inquiry, told journalists in June that it was “obvious” the program had operated “with gaps and deficiencies, an inadequate legislative framework and almost no regulatory framework.”
At the time of the program’s November 2020 termination in the aftermath of a much-publicized scandal brought to light by an Al-Jazeera sting operation, 1,417 applications (691 from main applicants, the rest from their dependents) remained unprocessed. Only last month did the government announce it had completed its review of the backlog of applications, the results of which it had conveyed to Brussels but not to the applicants themselves.
Already a year before the program’s eventual scrapping, Cyprus rescinded the citizenships of 26 individuals approved prior to 2018, a period during which due diligence is widely considered to have been inadequate. Among the 26 were alleged 1MDB fraud mastermind Jho Low, as well as the family members of Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.