Cyprus has terminated a citizenhip programme which sold passports to wealthy investors, after two high-ranking politicians were filmed in an undercover documentary pledging support to an applicant with a suppost criminal record.
Government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said on Tuesday the cabinet had accepted a recommendation by the minsters of the interior and finance to cancel altogether the “golden passport” scheme that has netted billions of euros over several years.
Koushos said the decision was based on the Cyprus Investment Program’s “long-standing weaknesses, but also the abuse” of its provisions.
He said the government would in due course look at different ways of attracting foreign investment.
The undercover documentary by Al Jazeera, has shown the Speaker of Parliament, Demetris Syllouris, and Member of Parliament Christakis Giovanis pledging “full support” to granting a passport to a fictitious Chinese investor, despite a money laundering conviction against him.
European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said the bloc’s executive body is looking into launching infringement proceedings against Cyprus.
The Cypriot MP denied the allegations saying that he was aware that the request was false and that he was playing along to extract more information in order to report to the authorities.
“We watched in disbelief how high-level officials were trading European citizenship for financial gains,” Wigand told reporters in Brussels. European commission “President [Ursula] von der Leyen was clear when saying European values are not for sale.”
Around 4,000 Cypriot passports have been issued to investors under the program, generating more than €7bn.