Cyprus to suspend 'EU golden passports' system

Abuse of citizenship system in exchange for investment

13 October, 18:34

    A view of Nicosia A view of Nicosia

    NICOSIA - Cyprus is suspending a scheme that grants citizenship, enabling visa-free travel throughout the EU, for those who invest a minimum of two million euros.

    The move comes into force next month.

    The decision came after Al Jazeera reporters filmed Cypriot officials using the scheme to assist a fictional Chinese businessman with a criminal record.

    One of those filmed was Cyprus's parliamentary speaker, Demetris Syllouris, who said he would step down until an investigation was completed.

    Last year, the EU Commission told EU states to tighten checks on non-EU nationals who acquired citizenship through investments. Malta and Bulgaria operate similar schemes to that of Cyprus.

    The commission said the programme could be abused and used for tax evasion and money-laundering.

    It added that applicants could acquire citizenship of Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria - and hence EU citizenship - "without ever having resided in practice in the member state".

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