EU wants answers over investors stripped of a Cypriot passport

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Brussels has requested from Nicosia an explanation as to why it decided to withdraw a Cyprus passport granted to 26 investors who are now deemed not to have met strict new criteria for citizenship

The Commission sent a letter to Cyprus on Friday seeking clarification of a government decision in November to revoke the Cypriot citizenship of 26 individuals who were granted it under the investment scheme.

In the letter, seen by Reuters, the Commission’s director-general for justice Tiina Astola asked Nicosia whether it would investigate “possible misconduct” in these cases and how it intended to prevent people with high-risk profiles from getting passports in the future.

Astola’s letter asked for a response by January 6.

Among EU countries only Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria grant citizenship in exchange for investment – the so-called “golden passports.” Bulgaria said in January it would halt this scheme.

Reportedly, 10 Russians, five Chinese and eight Cambodians are among the 26 foreign investors who are earmarked to be stripped of their Cyprus passport after obtaining it through the Citizenship for Investment scheme.

The investors have been informed of the cabinet decision, either directly or through the offices that were responsible for handling their cases.

It is expected that they will raise objections that will have to be examined.

In the case of rejection (which is the most likely scenario), the cabinet will deprive them of citizenship.

Interested parties can seek justice by seeking annulment of the cabinet decision but any court ruling is subject to appeal, either by the government or the investor.