Cyprus real estate Golden Visas slammed by EU corruption watchdog

Cyprus real estate Golden Visas slammed by EU corruption watchdog

Cyprus real estate Golden Visas slammed by EU corruption watchdog

EU warns Cyprus over corruption, money laundering and crime risks due to golden visas.

Although the Cypriot version of the controversial golden visa scheme has seen huge amounts of cash arriving on the island, the EU’s MONEYVAL watchdog is claiming links between luxury real estate purchases and money laundering or worse are a risk too far. According to the watchdog, vulnerabilities in the island’s programme are increasing exponentially as real estate continues to be the investment vehicle of choice.

The MONEYVAL report makes its position clear by stating risks connected with the scheme have not been comprehensively evaluated and mitigated, adding supervision over agents working in the real estate sector needs to be stepped up. Also, the report notes the island’s government is less than proactive as regards the confiscation and freezing of proceeds from international crime.

Cyprus’s golden visas were first marketed in 2013, with a minimum of €2million giving wealthy expats a Cypriot passport and visa-free travel across all European Union member states. Last October, according to a Reuters report, various applicants including the Cambodian police chief and its finance minister had both been granted Cypriot citizenship but, in November, authorities announced plans to revoke 26 golden visa passports due to ‘flawed procedures’. Recent reports state the revocation process has stalled as a result of a legal technicality.

At present, some 3,000 expat golden visa applicants have taken advantage of the scheme, but the main issue would seem to be that the relevant law has no supplementary clause allowing its revocation. At the same time, the popular expat retirement destination is being accused by foreign embassies of being soft on fake marriages in which EU citizen women are paid to undertake sham weddings with Asian or African men, thus allowing them to stay on the island. Latvian, Portuguese and Romanian embassies have all protested the scam, but again, no action seems to have been taken.

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