At least 400 individuals, including the super-rich from Russia and Ukraine, have allegedly received Cypriot citizenship in exchange for investing in the country.
Prominent businesspeople from Russia and Ukraine are reportedly amongst those who have acquired Cypriot citizenship, and therefore EU citizenship, by investing millions in the country.
According to Euronews, among the names are “prominent businesspeople and individuals with considerable political influence” including “a former member of Russia’s parliament, the founders of Ukraine’s largest commercial bank and a gambling billionaire”.
It also says that the Cypriot government has made over €4bn with the scheme since 2013.
According to the Cypriot interior ministry website, those wishing to obtain a citizenship via the “Scheme for Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by Exception” can do so by investing €2.5m in the country via real estate, business and government bonds.
The applicant must also have a “clean criminal record and “his name must not be included in the list of persons whose assets, within the boundaries of the European Union, have been frozen as the result of sanctions”.
The scheme, which came into play in 2013 and was revised in 2016, aims to “attract high net worth individuals to settle and do business in Cyprus”, according to the website.
According to The Guardian, the leak marks the first time a list of the super-rich granted Cypriot citizenship has been revealed. A former member of Russia’s parliament, the founders of Ukraine’s largest commercial bank and a gambling billionaire are among the new names.
Ana Gomes, a Portuguese MEP, described “golden visas” as “absolutely immoral and perverse”.
“I’m not against individual member states granting citizenship or residence to someone who would make a very special contribution to the country, be it in arts or science, or even in investment. But granting, not selling,” she said.
However, Cyprus’ finance ministry said the programme was intended for “genuine investors, who establish a business base and acquire a permanent residence in Cyprus”.