Cyprus plans to strip citizenships after uproar over passports

Cyprus plans to strip citizenships after uproar over passports

Cyprus passport
File photo of a Cyprus passport. (Photo: AFP PHOTO/HASAN MROUE)

ATHENS: Cyprus on Wednesday (Nov 6) said it had started a process to strip 26 individuals of citizenship they received under a secretive passports for investment scheme.

"Cabinet has decided to initiate a process to revoke Cypriot citizenship from 26 individuals," Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said.

"The Council of Ministers today affirmed the will of the government for strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Cyprus investment programme," he added.

Petrides did not disclose the nationalities or identities of the individuals concerned, but a Reuters investigation last month revealed wealthy relatives and allies of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had received Cypriot passports under the scheme.

Hun Sen has previously denied opposition allegations that members of his inner circle had passports from other countries and lived the high life overseas.

READ: Malaysian authorities investigate reports saying Jho Low has a Cyprus passport

READ: Malaysian police say 1MDB fugitive Low seeking to buy Cyprus properties

Greek newspaper Politis reported on Sunday that Malaysian fugitive businessman Jho Low was in possession of a Cyprus passport. 

The report alleged that Low arrived in Cyprus in September 2015 and obtained the passport two days later through the Cyprus Investment Plan.

The scheme requires an interested party to deposit €5 million (US$5.6 million) in a local bank for three years and allows them to buy a house.

The report also claimed Low had commissioned a €5 million mansion on the island, due for completion and delivery within two months.

On Wednesday, Malaysian police said Low had attempted to purchase properties in Cyprus under a different name. 

Police chief Abdul Hamid Bador later clarified the authorities believed Low was hiding in a remote country, but that he was not in the Cyprus islands. 

"It's impossible for him to get out of his hiding place so easily. He is still there hiding like a chicken," he said.

Low has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over the alleged theft of US$4.5 billion from 1MDB, set up by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Source: Reuters/Bernama/nh(hs)

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