The process of revoking Cyprus passports from 26 rich foreign investors and family members from outside the EU appears to be more difficult than anticipated.
The decision was taken by the Council of Ministers back in November, however, no proceedings have been initiated yet because the process is legally stuck.
Specifically, articles of the Republic’s law paving the way for a passport to be revoked do not cover cases of naturalised investors.
The gap appears to be in the Law on Registration of Population Act of 2002 (141 (I) / 2002) and more specifically in section 113 which provides for deprivation of a citizenship.
The article in question states that “A citizen of the Republic who is a citizen by registration or is a naturalised person shall cease to be a citizen of…The Council of Ministers, by decree, may deprive any citizen of the Republic who is a naturalized citizen by virtue of its provisions in Article 111 or a person registered under the provisions of subsection (2) of Article 110, if (the Council) is satisfied that:
- a) By deeds or words, that person has expressed dishonesty or malice towards the Republic;
(b) in any war carried out by the Republic that person was illegally engaged in a transaction or communicated with the enemy or engaged in any operation which was carried out within his knowledge to assist the enemy;
(c) within ten (10) years of registration or naturalization, that person has been convicted of imprisonment for a particularly heinous crime or for an offense involving moral obscenity in any country; provided that the conviction in question concerns an offense which is also an offense in the Republic of Cyprus and which is particularly abhorrent or morally abusive and carries a prison sentence.”
Cypriot citizenship was granted to a total of 579 people in 2019, with the vast majority of approvals referring to applications submitted before May 15 when new stricter criteria came into force.
The Cyprus Republic has now also introduced the maximum number of naturalizations per year to be 700.
Over 700 applications are currently pending and insiders have assured that absolutely no new application will be considered – at least within 2020.
At European level, the intention for common checks at countries offering such investment programs to be introduced seems to be taking its time.
There is concern, however, that the so-called “golden passports” may be a backdoor into the EU for criminal gangs or government officials to launder huge sums, or evade tax.