Cyprus has approved 390 more applicants for golden passports since the citizenship by investment scheme was canceled in November 2020, while the Brussels sanctions procedure for the scheme is ongoing.
Home Secretary Nikos Nouris, while presenting his ministry’s budget to the House Finance Committee, said the government had approved 390 foreign investor applications submitted before the end of the scheme on November 1, 2020.
Nouris said he had sent 1,413 applications to the cabinet through the disgraced citizenship by investment program through July 31, 2021, which stopped accepting new applicants on October 31, 2020.
Nuris told MPs that 390 applications were approved and 1,023 were rejected.
He said that 691 petitions were submitted by investors and 722 were received from their dependents, adding that 1,023 petitions were rejected.
Asked about the EU sanctions procedure for golden passports, Nouris replied: “We have explained everything that was required of us and we expect to hear an answer in the coming weeks.”
In June, the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Cyprus for not addressing earlier concerns.
Nicosia has been given 2 months to explain what steps it has taken to comply with EU laws so as not to face legal consequences otherwise.
The European Commission stated that while Cyprus terminated its scheme and suspended the acceptance of applications on November 1, 2020, consideration of applications submitted before that date is still pending.In October, the EU confirmed that it had received a response from Nicosia as part of the ongoing sanctions procedure against the Cyprus Investment Program and is currently evaluating it.
According to Brussels, the obligations of Cyprus and Malta have not been fulfilled. Because they have created and operated investor citizenship schemes that offer citizenship in exchange for predetermined payments and investments.
A year ago, the island of Cyprus refused to issue golden passports after Al Jazeera showed a documentary in which reporters pretended to be collaborators of a Chinese businessman who was trying to obtain Cypriot citizenship despite having a criminal record.
Speaker of Parliament Demetris Syllouris and an opposition MP were secretly filmed, allegedly trying to make it easier for a fugitive investor to obtain a passport. After which they decided to resign, although they insisted that they were innocent.
Al Jazeera reported that dozens of applicants are under criminal investigation, international sanctions or even serving prison sentences.
A public inquiry has uncovered evidence that the government broke the law multiple times by granting citizenship to more than 6,700 people between 2007 and 2020.
The revealing report said that more than half (53%) of the 6,779 issued passports were illegally issued, encouraged by a lack of due diligence or superficial identity and background checks.
The Cyprus Passport Scheme has generated over 7 billion euros since its inception in 2007.