The President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, has said that the EU country will not be replacing its citizenship by investment programme – but other incentives would be offered for investment.
The programme, which was halted late last year (November 2020), earned the island nation around €9 billion since its launch in 2013, but the European Union had expressed concerns over the scheme.
The programme had proved popular with nationals from Russia, Ukraine, China and Cambodia – attracted by the prospect of visa-free access across the EU.
Speaking at a board of enquiry, Anastasiades said the programme had been the strictest in Europe but had weaknesses at the beginning. Possible corruption was also highlighted by a documentary film crew who caught officials on tape offering to help an applicant with a criminal record.
“The gaps and weaknesses allowed some applicants and others to abuse it,” said Anastasiades.
“There was an irrational promotion of the programme, giving the impression Cyprus was selling its passports.”
Anastasiades had issued warnings that the scheme could be suspended but confirms it will not be replaced. However, he did say that other incentives would be offered for investment into the country, but that would not include citizenship.
Another EU country, Malta, also made significant changes to its citizenship by investment programme last year. Despite the programme’s tough stance on due diligence (Malta outranks most other CIPs for its stringent vetting procedures), the Maltese Government decided to scrap the MIIP prematurely and replace it with a new programme which was launched in November.