Property investment must shed passports scandal

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Interior Minister Nicos Nouris urged land development companies to avoid advertisements that connect real estate to gaining Cypriot citizenship or residency.

He said acquiring a European passport should only occur when the person has links to that Member State and is not based solely on investments.

The Minister, who addressed Tuesday’s 15th Land Development Conference in Nicosia, said the government intends to respect this EU position fully.

Cyprus scrapped its lucrative passports for investment scheme last November after allegations of corruption and money laundering.

Nouris said that when the program was cancelled, around 1,147 applications were pending.

Cyprus sent a letter to the European Commission informing it that all of the applicants have been reviewed.

He added that Brussels had been informed that none were approved yet as a legal process is underway.

Nouris said the Cabinet recently amended the criteria for the registration and operation of foreign companies.

Further measures are being promoted to simplify the procedures for issuing work permits to foreign staff, considering the turnover and the number of Cypriots or Europeans employed by each company.

New criteria for permanent residence concern investing in other types of real estate and investing in the share capital of companies already registered in the Republic.

In 2014, there were 120,000 title deeds unissued, and today that backlog has been reduced to 19,190.

Of these, 8,000 will be issued within 2022 without problems, and 6,500 will also be issued within 2022 with notes as incomplete.

Of the remaining 5,000, he said the whole issue is complex, and authorities must find a way to resolve it.

Nouris said a new licensing policy from October 2020 allows electronic applications, speeding up the process and making the procedure efficient and more transparent.

He said projects currently under construction exceed approximately €785 mln for 2021-2023.