By Stelios Orphanides
The ministry of finance said Friday that a committee for the supervision and control of the government’s citizenship-by-investment programme will start accepting applications from providers of relating services to be included on a special registry.
Interested parties will have to submit their applications using a special form on the website of the committee, which was set up by the cabinet in January, the ministry said.
Applicants like property developers, law and accounting firms and other professionals, are required to sign and comply with the provisions of a code of conduct, which among others, obliges them to verify the legitimacy of an investor’s funds and refrain from advertising the scheme as a Cypriot passport sale, it added.
“The registry will be published on July 31, 2018 on the websites of the ministries of finance and the interior, and Invest Cyprus (the former Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency),” the ministry said. “It is stressed that the July 31, registry will include the applications submitted by July 18, 2018, provided they are approved.”
The finance ministry added that the committee will update the registry in regular intervals and that golden visa applicants will continue to submit their documents and applications based on the existing procedure by July 30.
“From July 31, 2018 onwards, applications for naturalisation may be submitted only by registered service providers,” who can participate in a special training seminar on Thursday, June 21, the ministry said. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance, which is one of the registration requirements for service providers.
Cyprus’s citizenship-by-investment scheme, renamed Cyprus Investment Programme, allows investors to acquire the Cypriot citizenship in a fast-track procedure with a €2m investment. Since the introduction of the scheme in its current form in 2014 and in a previous form in 2008, Cyprus has granted citizenships to 1,685 investors and 1,651 family members.
In May, the government decided to introduce a cap of 700 citizenships per year, above the 503 passports offered in 2017, which was the highest ever in a year.
It also decided to subject applicants to enhanced due diligence procedures in an apparent response to criticism from non-governmental organisation Transparency International, which said Cyprus’ programme undermined the fight against money laundering and corruption.
Three months ago, the European Commission said it would prepare a report about the visa programmes offered by member states.
Cypriot authorities were more concerned about service providers, including developers, real estate agents, and law firms, actively advertising the scheme on their websites or in foreign media.