The Cypriot authorities have refused to return to the distribution of “golden passports”, a citizenship in exchange for investment program canceled in 2020. This was announced by President Nikos Anastasiades in a public speech. His words are quoted by Reuters.
“The holes and weaknesses of this scheme allowed some candidates to abuse it,” the president said and assured that they would not look for a replacement for the scheme.
According to the agency, from 2013 to 2019, Cyprus received more than 9 billion euros of foreign investment through this program. It was widely used for money laundering and the unimpeded movement of persons within the European Union who otherwise would not have received European citizenship due to a criminal background or for another reason. It is noted that the “golden passport” was especially popular among citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, China and Cambodia.
More than 3 thousand people have used the service. In 2020, the Speaker of the Cyprus Parliament resigned after he was convicted of plans to help a person convicted of crimes obtain a passport illegally.
In September, the local newspaper Politis published a list of 34 people, which includes prominent Russians and Ukrainians who have received the “golden passports” of Cyprus through investments. The list includes a former board member of Eurofinance Mosnarbank Vladimir Stolyarenko, the largest shareholder of Uralsib Bank Vladimir Kogan, who died last year, and his widow Lyudmila, as well as a Russian businessman Grigory Berezkin and his wife Elena.