The cabinet has decided to rescind the Cypriot citizenship granted to 45 foreign nationals as part of the island’s controversial citizenship by investment programme that was terminated late last year following a series of damning media reports, government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said on Friday.
The spokesman said the decision followed an independent inquiry into the programme, which recommended looking into the possibility of rescinding a number of citizenships and other actions, in 102 cases.
“The cabinet decided to launch the revocation process for 39 investors and six members of their families, as well as cancelling a previous cabinet decision to naturalise an investor and a dependant family member,” Pelekanos said.
The spokesman said the cabinet will also examine six additional cases and monitor a further 47.
The decision will be conveyed to the European Commission, he said.
A government source said investors who will lose their citizenship will not be compensated but they will retain ownership of the property they have purchased.
Investors also have the right to appeal the cabinet decision in court.
The Commission has launched a legal procedure against Cyprus in connection with the programme. The procedure is still ongoing despite termination of the scheme in November 2020.
The government was forced to end it following an undercover video recorded by Al Jazeera a month earlier showing former House president Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis offering to help a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record secure Cypriot citizenship.
The video also featured prominent Famagusta lawyer Andreas Pittadjis offering his services to make the deal happen.
Before that, in August, Al Jazeera run another report about the programme, saying Cyprus was selling passports to dubious individuals.
Reuters had also reported that eight relatives or allies of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen – including Cambodia’s police chief, who has been instrumental in clamping down on dissent, and its finance minister – sought Cypriot citizenship in 2016 and 2017.
Daily Politis also reported that Malaysian financier Jho Taek Low who is suspected of stealing billions from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund had also been granted citizenship. That transaction was facilitated by Archbishop Chrysostomos with Low €300,000 contributing €300,000 to the Theological School.