The Council of Ministers decided on Wednesday to initiate procedures to rescind citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus it had granted to 26 individuals under the passports-for-investment scheme of the Cyprus Investment Programme.
The decision was announced after a four-hour meeting of the Cabinet by Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides.
The cabinet decision came following repeated press reports that started after Reuters exclusively reported last month a list of Cambodian beneficiaries, including its police chief and finance minister.
The Cyprus News Agency has learnt that a Malaysian, eight Cambodians, two Kenyans, five Chinese, nine Russians and one Iranian will be stripped of their citizenship.
According to the Minister of Interior the decision includes cases that have been made public, adding that the procedure might take some months and that "results are already in place".
The decision confirms the government’s commitment to strictly adhere to the criteria, terms and conditions governing the Cyprus Investment Programme, as well as enhanced due diligence layers, and the strict implementation of all procedures governing the Cyprus Investment Programme, as amended or enhanced by relevant Council of Ministers Decisions, Petrides said.
The minister added that the programme has gone through several transformations, and was overhauled in February 2019 with five different due-diligence layers. The Minister of Interior will continue enhanced due diligent checks for all persons granted citizenship by exception until 2018.
A three-member committee made up of the chairwoman of the Cyprus Public Audit Oversight Board, head of the Treasury of the Republic, the chairwoman of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission and a representative of the Law Service of the Republic will examine the results of the due diligence checks and submit a final report and conclusions to the cabinet.
The cabinet also decided to ban any further advertising of the investment scheme.
Answering questions, Petrides said that out of a total of 4000 applications there only nine investment cases that involved 26 individuals. It’s common-sense that some cases would be problematic, the minister said, acknowledging that mistakes were made such as not including criteria for high-risk individuals such as politically exposed persons (MOPs), who will be automatically rejected from now on, even if there is no conviction against them, he added.
Petrides also said that the investment scheme helped the country, especially during a very difficult time.