Cyprus will strip three more foreigners of citizenship granted to them under a controversial investment programme, Phileleftheros reports.
The latest decision which was recently taken by the Council of Ministers raises the number of foreigners to lose their citizenship to 29. The relevant process has yet to begin, however.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris took the three new cases before Cabinet after extensive audits has been carried out in accordance with fresh rules approved after the recent revelations on scandalous cases of foreign investors holding ‘golden passports’, such as that of Malaysian fugitive Jho Taek Low.
Meanwhile, the process of examining new applications to the naturalisation programme is proceeding smoothly, the Minister said in a written reply to a question by Green party MP George Perdikis.
Nonetheless, he added, relevant regulations requested by Parliament have yet to be approved by the recently set-up ad hoc committee composed of the head of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, the Assistant Attorney General and a Legal Services member.
Nouris also said that it would have been inappropriate to change the current institutional framework by adopting the Regulations, before all conclusions by the ad hoc committee are rounded up.
“The views of the ad hoc committee will largely determine the next steps to be taken in the implementation of these Regulations,” he added.
At the same time, no substantial progress has been recorded in regard to the revocation of passports.
Phileleftheros was the first to disclose that the Attorney General had spotted a legislative gap in the implementation of this specific process.
And that an amendment to the law is necessary to also cover reasons for revocation of citizenship in cases where these were granted through the country’s citizenship by investment plan.
Additional changes to the scheme on the way
Apart from the regulations already before the ad hoc committee that will obviously make the program much stricter and prevent dubious individuals from getting a passport, additional amendments are on the way.
This need will arise from the common set of rules drafted by a special committee of the European Commission. In theory, these rules should have been ready by end of 2019. However, no final conclusions have been reached yet, and an extension was granted.
Nonetheless, the Commission did note that new stricter measures had been implemented in Cyprus, such as the issuance of a Schengen application card.
However, it also noted that these were applied only to the naturalisation program and not to the permanent residency program, and this creates a similar potential risk.
By Antonis Antoniou