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Interior ministry has 1,413 citizenship applications pending

The interior ministry said Tuesday it had before it 1,413 pending applications as part of the controversial citizenship by investment programme that the government was forced to scrap in October following several damning reports in the media.

The government terminated the programme on November 1 after an undercover Al Jazeera video showed former House president Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis offering help to an imaginary Chinese businessman with a criminal record to secure citizenship.

That report, and others before it, prompted the European Commission to commence legal procedures against Cyprus, which was accused of granting citizenships to dubious individuals.

In response to a newspaper report suggesting the government had sent the Commission reduced figures by omitting the dependants of the investors who had been granted citizenship, the interior ministry said Tuesday that between 2013 and August 17, 2020, it had naturalised 3,147 individuals who had invested in the Republic and 3,177 dependants.

The ministry said it has yet to process 691 applications from investors and 722 dependants that were received by November 1, when the scheme was scrapped.

Opposition daily Haravghi claimed that the government had hidden information about thousands of so-called golden passports to allay the Commission’s concerns but was caught red handed because the European statistical agency, Eurostat, also had the real figures.

The paper said the government had sent the EU a study saying it had granted citizenship to 2,855 investors between June 1, 2013 and the end of 2019, without any reference to their dependants.

However, according to Haravghi, Eurostat’s figures, which the Commission had, suggested that Cyprus had granted 11,949 passports to third-country nationals between 2013 and 2018, most relating to the investment programme,

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