Cyprus to suspend ‘EU golden passports’ scheme

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Cyprus is suspending a scheme that grants citizenship and guarantees visa-free travel throughout the EU for those who invest a minimum of €2m (£1.8m).

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

According to the BBC, one of those filmed was Cyprus’s parliamentary speaker, Demetris Syllouris, Cyprus’s second-highest ranking state official.  Mr Syllouris said he would step down from 19 October until an investigation was completed.

In the video footage captured by undercover Al Jazeera journalists and released on Monday, Mr Syllouris appears to offer his influence to assist in obtaining citizenship for the fictitious businessman.

On Tuesday, Mr Syllouris released a statement apologising for “this unpleasant image conveyed to the Cypriot public… and any upset it may have caused”. His announcement came shortly after the government said it had approved a proposal to suspend the scheme – the citizenship for investment programme – following an emergency session on Tuesday.

The move comes into force next month.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the office of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said the proposal was put forward in response to “weaknesses” in the scheme that could be “exploited”.

Source: BBC

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