ECONOMY: Cyprus needs everybody helping to preserve hard-fought reputation

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Following adverse publicity over its ‘golden passport’ scheme there is a duty to protect Cyprus’ good name which took hard work to restore after previous lapses, said Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides.

Speaking about the Cyprus Investment Programme, the minister conceded that mistakes have been made, but said controls were now in place that make the programme “one of the strongest worldwide.”

He pointed to efforts for economic recovery in the past saying that the state of the economy is not something that can be taken for granted “nor can the programme of course”.

The Minister was addressing Cyprus Land and Building Developers Association AGM in Nicosia.

Petrides said a few years ago Cyprus had a bad reputation due to shell companies and money laundering through offshore companies, as well as weak points in the country’s banking system that allowed for abuses and money laundering.

“It took a lot of effort to reinstate the country’s credibility, through the banking sector, public finances and with sounder business practices.”

He said moreover that professionals with activity related to the Citizenship-for-Investment scheme also have a responsibility to follow best practices and respect the code of conduct.

“We will be very strict about these practices too because we all have a responsibility, both the public and private sector.”

The Cabinet decided on Wednesday to initiate procedures to rescind Cypriot citizenship granted to 26 individuals under the passports-for-investment scheme.

This decision came as the government was under intense pressure following allegations that members of Cambodia’s political elite and a fugitive Malaysian financier received Cypriot EU passports under the investment scheme.