By Elias Hazou
Green party MP Giorgos Perdikis plans to table a proposal aimed at boosting transparency with regard to the citizenship by investment scheme.
The proposal would see the government scheme’s details – criteria, procedures and so forth – being submitted to parliament in the form of legislative ordinances.
It is hoped that in this way parliamentary scrutiny would weed out any abuses, Perdikis said on Monday.
He said his objective was not to assail the citizenship by investment programme, but rather to improve it, thus shielding it from criticism from abroad.
It was the MP’s latest foray into the issue, after parliament last April voted down a bill he had submitted which mandated publishing in the government gazette the names of foreign nationals who have been granted citizenships by Cyprus.
The names, along with the law and audit firms, consultancies and developers who acted as the intermediaries, had earlier been leaked to the media.
They included President Nicos Anastasiades’ law office, as well as that of Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos, among other prominent names.
Between 2008 and 2018, Cyprus granted honorary citizenships to 45 individuals, with the most, 10, granted in 2012.
During the same period, 3,336 foreign nationals – including the investors’ family members — were granted citizenships as part of a government scheme to attract investment following the economic collapse in 2013.
The majority of those were granted in 2017, 1,013. The scheme had fetched Cyprus some €5 billion.
There have been several reports in international media censuring the Cypriot government for its ‘golden passport’ scheme, granting citizenship to Russian ‘oligarchs’ and members of the Ukrainian elite.
The finance ministry and the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency have dismissed claims that Cypriot passports are for sale and said the programme is simply an investment scheme.
Officials have also pointed out that the level of investment required to acquire citizenship is far higher than other European countries offering similar schemes. In Malta, €350,000 must be spent on a residence, and it need only be held for five years. In Cyprus, at least €500,000 of an applicant’s overall investment must be spent on a permanent residence.