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June 16, 2020

Cyprus tightens CBI Programme regulations

Cyprus’ Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme is set to be updated with new regulations.

In June 2020, the Cypriot Government approved new regulations that would tie the program to anti-money laundering legislation, aimed at aiding the execution and examination of applications for second citizenship of Cyprus.

This comes after a European money laundering watchdog earlier this year cautioned that the non-transparent CBI scheme run by Cyprus was vulnerable to money laundering. Subsequently, Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body, called on the Cypriot authorities to pursue more aggressively money laundering from criminal proceeds generated outside of Cyprus and take a more proactive approach to the freezing and confiscation of foreign proceeds.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told the Cyprus Mail: “We believe that by introducing the interconnection between the programme and the laws the central bank itself uses against money laundering, we are adding a new layer to the scheme.”

These new regulations, Nouris says, “will make it no longer possible… to question the credibility of the programme that the Republic of Cyprus has established”.

Another feature of the new programme is “the tightening of regulations” says Nouris, “so that there is a revocation of the granting of citizenship in a clear way as in cases where it was found that a candidate for naturalisation was either involved or has been convicted of a serious crime”.

Such tightening comes as a result of the Government previously having encountered difficulties in revoking passports, the Interior Minister explained.

The Cyprus Investment Programme, which is capped at 700 applicants per year and which has six-month-long due diligence checks, involves a €2m investment along with the purchase of a property worth at least €500,000. However, there are alternative options including investment in businesses or acquiring share capital in Cypriot companies.

“Together with decisions already taken by the Council of Ministers last year, we have made the Cypriot investment programme extremely reliable with very robust and strict criteria,” adds Nouris.