News Local Cyprus' plan to strip citizenship stalls in legal vacuum

Cyprus’ plan to strip citizenship stalls in legal vacuum

A legal technicality has led Cyprus to temporarily halt a process to strip citizenship from 26 individuals who benefitted from a secretive passports-for-investment scheme, lawmakers said on Monday.

A lucrative citizenship for investment scheme run by the Mediterranean island has been under scrutiny both in Cyprus and abroad after the disclosure that some of the beneficiaries were high-ranking officials from foreign countries.

More than 3,500 people have gained citizenship under this scheme in recent years.

In November, Cypriot authorities announced they would revoke the passports of 26 individuals, saying the criteria under which citizenship was granted to some people was flawed.

Reuters had reported in October that a number of Cambodians, including its police chief and finance minister, had acquired Cypriot citizenship.

Cypriot government sources had said at the time the group whose passports should be revoked include nine Russians, eight Cambodians, five Chinese nationals, two Kenyans, one Malaysian and one Iranian.

Lawmakers from the Interior Committee of parliament were told on Monday the decision to strip passports could not proceed at present for legal reasons, two of those present told Reuters.

That was because, one said, the relevant law for granting investors citizenship lacked a supplementary clause on the process for revoking it.

“We have a problem with the law which can be fixed relatively easily,” said George Perdikis, a lawmaker with the Greens party.

Nonetheless, he said, “our jaws dropped” when an interior ministry employee said there was a problem with the law as it currently stood.

Left-wing lawmaker Eleni Mavrou, who chairs the Interior Committee, told Reuters there was a “legal vacuum” in revoking the passports. “Today we were told that the process won’t go ahead until a committee appointed by the government vets all the information,” she said.

Cyprus has had a citizenship for investment plan in place since 2013, under which a minimum 2 million-euro ($2.2 million) investment can buy a passport and visa-free travel throughout the European Union.

Authorities say the programme has gone through several transformations, and was overhauled in February 2019 with five different due-diligence layers, compared with one in 2013.

For transparency reasons, Cypriot lawmakers in February 2019 decided the eligibility criteria of the citizenship scheme be enshrined in law, instead of based on regulations set by the island’s cabinet.

So far the government has not brought those regulations to parliament for discussion and a deadline set by parliament passed at the end of January.

“We have thrown down the gauntlet, we told them (the government) that since there are no regulations, any applications submitted after Jan. 31 can’t be reviewed,” Mavrou said.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

New Covid-19 case from repatriations, total now 1004

  One person, a repatriating Cypriot who travelled from the US, has tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 1004, the...

Lakkotrypis: Moratorium in EEZ would signal end of Cyprus’ energy prospects

    A moratorium on hydrocarbon activities in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, due to Cyprus settlement efforts or ongoing Turkish...

Israel reimposes series of restrictions after coronavirus spike

    Israel reimposed on Monday a series of restrictions to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, including the immediate closure of bars, night clubs, gyms...

Moody’s: Payment holidays shield banks in 2020, deterioration very likely in 2021

    The high level of loan payment holiday in Cyprus may shield the banks in 2020 but suggests that asset quality deterioration is “still very...

New property general manager of City of Dreams Mediterranean, Cyprus Casinos

    Melco has announced the promotion of Grant Johnson as Senior Vice President, Property General Manager of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos “C2”. With...

Taste

Cyprus sprouts with cream and prosciutto

In a big, deep frying pan, fry the prosciutto in the olive oil, on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic...

Pork burger with sundried tomatoes, mozzarella and anchovies

Mix all the ingredients together with the mince in a bowl, and combine well. Divide into 4 balls and form the burgers. Warm a griddle/pan...

Sheftalies

Wash the lamb cauls with plenty of cold water and let them settle in water and vinegar for a little while. Soak the bread crumbs...

Loukaniko Pitsilias – Pitsilia Sausage

Pitsilia sausage is produced in the Pitsilia region from pork minced meat that is “cooked” ( matured) in the dry red wine of the...