Despite numerous warnings from the European Commission, Cyprus is still considering applications for a “golden passport”. These are applications that were pending in November 2020. It was then that the disgraced citizenship by investment (CBI) scheme was “irretrievably terminated”.
In October 2020, the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against Cyprus and Malta by sending letters of formal notice of their “golden passport” schemes.
The news that Cyprus continues to consider Golden Passport applications comes during an interview between Stockwatch and Michalis Zavos, CEO of D. Zavos Group from Limassol and a member of the Cyprus Land and Building Developers Association (LBDA).
Zavos defended the scheme, blaming its failure on a lack of proper oversight, and believes the government will develop a new investment program with stricter terms.
He went on to say that Cyprus has become a magnet for the rich and spoke of great interest from wealthy buyers from European countries; in particular, buyers from Sweden, Germany and England who want to buy property worth between €1 million and €2 million.
Golden Passport Investigations
Former Chief Justice of the Island Myron Nikolatos said that of the 6,779 gold passports issued over the 13 years of the program, 53% were issued not to the investors themselves, but to their family members or top managers of companies.The Attorney General’s Office repeatedly warned in 2015 and 2016 that this practice could be illegal because there is no specific law allowing the government to issue such passports.
Nikolatos said: “Obviously, (the program) ran between 2007 and August 17, 2020 with gaps and omissions, no legal framework and almost no regulatory framework.
“There was also a lack of safety valves, proper legal guidance, and oversight of existing laws and regulations.”
According to a study by the Ministry of Finance of Cyprus, the total investment by foreigners is about 9.7 billion euros.
In addition to the infringement procedures that the European Commission has already launched against Cyprus, the news that Cyprus continues to consider Golden Passport applications could lead to further sanctions.