A large part of the so-called golden passports issued by the European Union member state of Cyprus from 2007 to 2020 ended up with people who illegally acquired Cypriot citizenship in this way. This is according to government research.
In total, during those thirteen years, 3,517 people and 3,810 of their relatives acquired Cypriot citizenship. The investigation concluded that those responsible for this passport program must be held accountable.
Anyone who wanted such a golden passport had to invest at least 2.5 million euros. This passport also gave applicants the opportunity to travel freely in the European Union, which Nicosia had previously come under heavy criticism from Brussels. Many Russian oligarchs took advantage of this scheme. Many of these few had to hand over their Cypriot passports.
Granting a passport was not illegal in itself, but a report by Al Jazeera news channel showed how senior government officials operate here. The speaker of parliament was forced to resign in the wake of that report – and she was seen promising an interested businessman, according to Al Jazeera, a Chinese with a criminal past – to “arrange” his request.
9.7 billion euros
According to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, the documents yielded 9.7 billion euros, funds that were badly needed, among other things, due to the serious financial crisis in the country in 2013.
This technique has also been applied in Malta and Bulgaria. They too have already put an end to it, under pressure from the European Commission.
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