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Cyprus intends to tighten the rules for issue of "Golden passports"

Feb 07, 2019

Starting from January 31, 2020, potential investors will find it much harder to obtain the “golden passports” of Cyprus.

The Parliament of Cyprus voted in favor of a bill tightening the issue of so-called “Golden passports” to investors, as reported by the Cyprus Times newspaper. “Golden passports” refer to passports and residence permits, granted in exchange for investments in the economy of the country.

29 deputies voted for the bill and 17 – against it. The above-mentioned law will come into force on 31 January 2020, up to that point, the authorities of Cyprus should develop rules for granting of Cypriot citizenship. The vote was preceded by wordy discussions, during which opponents of the bill noted that it will obstruct investments.

According to the opponents of the bill, there are economy sectors, which require additional investments, such as agriculture and scientific research, despite that, the authorities are mostly fixated on the construction of luxury housing in the country, such as towers in the city of Limassol. Supporters of the bill stated that its purpose is “to protect the integrity of Cyprus”.

Within the European Union three countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta – issue “Golden passport” to foreigners. In order to obtain such a document in Malta it is required to make an investment in the national investment Fund in amount of €650 million and €150 thousand into the country’s economy, it is also necessary to buy or rent a property. Bulgarian “Golden passport” costs an investment of €1 million, and a Cyprus “Golden passport” – starting from €2 million, as well as purchase of property is required.

In January, the European Commission has produced a report which indicated the risks of granting “Golden passports” as this can facilitate money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. The European Commission also pointed out risks to the security of the European Union, since these programs may provide access into the Union for organized criminal groups. The report emphasized that neither Cyprus, Malta nor Bulgaria provide full information about the identity of investors, which are granted citizenship.

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