Politis newspaper has published the list of 26 foreign investors who are being stripped of Cypriot citizenship obtained under the country’s controversial passports-for-investment scheme.
The decision to rescind the citizenship – a highly unusual move — was announced by Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides earlier this month and followed a probe in the wake of an exclusive Reuters report on how members of Cambodia’s elite had obtained a Cyprus – and by extension an EU — passport under previous criteria.
“The Council of Ministers today affirmed the will of the government for strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Cyprus investment programme,” Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides told journalists after a four-hour cabinet meeting on November 6. He did not disclose nationalities or identities of those affected but said they involved nine investment cases.
But according to Politis newspaper the 26 are:
Vladimir Stolyarenco, his wife and daughter
Αlexander Bondarenko, his wife and two sons
Oleg Deribaska, his son and daughter
Moreover, the eight Cambodians who are officials or relatives of the regime which is subject to sanctions for corruption and human rights violations
Im Paulika and her husband Aun Pornmoniroth, Finance Minister
Choeung Sopheap and her husband Lao Meng Khin, member of parliament
Hum Kimleng and her husband Neth Savoeum, chief of police and their two daughters
Also on the list are five Chinese nationals who are linked to a case of fraud involving gold bars:
Zhang Shumin, his wife and their three children.
Two Kenyans implicated in a financial fraud case:
Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa and his wife Stelia Nasike W
Last but not least fugitive Malyasian financier Jho Taek Low.
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.
Advertising the scheme is now banned. Authorities say the programme has gone through several transformations, and was overhauled in February 2019 with five different due diligence layers, compared to one in 2013.
In five years between the inception of the citizenship scheme and 2018, the Cypriot government approved 1,864 citizenship applications. Including family members, the number was more than 3,200, and is close to 4,000 today.
“If there were nine investment cases, concerning 26 people among 4,000 applications, it is logical that some would be problematic when controls weren’t strict,” Petrides said.