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Cyprus suspends citizenship for investment program, following reports of abuse

Published: Updated:

Cyprus announced it was suspending its citizenship for investment program on Tuesday, following reports of abuses of a system that gives the rich a
passport and visa-free travel throughout the EU.

The suspension of the program, in its current form, would take effect from November 1, government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos told journalists after an emergency session of the island’s cabinet.

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For a minimum investment of 2 million euros, the Cypriot scheme provides passports that guarantee visa-free travel in the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

Criticized as opaque and fraught with the risk of money-laundering, the scheme is popular with Russians, Ukrainians and, more recently, Chinese and Cambodians.

By law, a criminal record should disqualify a potential investor.

Reuters reported in October 2019 that Cambodians in the inner circle of long-time leader Hun Sen, plus family members, had acquired passports, leading authorities to review the program.