Dozens of Russian and Belarussian people will no longer be able to use their golden passports issued by Cyprus and Malta after officials in both countries opted to revoke them.
The decision comes after affluent nationals from the aforementioned nations were placed on European Union sanctions lists; as a result, the golden passports obtained through Cyprus and Malta's Golden Passport schemes can no longer be used.
According to a TVR report, officials in Cyprus withdrew the citizenships of nine Russian investors and 34 members of their families who obtained citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment scheme, while Maltese authorities revoked the golden passports of two people.
Mortiz Korner, FDP MEP, commended the decision made by these two European countries while emphasising that those who profit from Russia's President Vladimir Putin's policies must bear the repercussions.
“Russians and Belarusians who end up on the EU sanctions list do not deserve EU citizenship,” Korner pointed out, according to Der Spiegel’s report.
The Golden Passport plan, which has been implemented in many European nations, provides non-EU citizens with a road to citizenship if they contribute financially to the particular state and meet the other requirements.
However, the programme has frequently been accused of being involved in illegal activities such as corruption, tax fraud, and money laundering, prompting EU officials to demand the scheme's termination as soon as feasible.
Furthermore, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EU agreed to prohibit the issuance of Golden Passports to Russians, particularly Russian and Belarussian individuals subject to EU sanctions.
Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, stated in March of last year that European values are not for sale, despite the fact that the selling of citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment scheme is illegal under European Union law and constitutes a substantial security risk.
“All Member States concerned should end their investor citizenship schemes immediately. In addition, they should assess whether they should revoke any ‘golden passports’ already granted to sanctioned individuals and others significantly supporting Putin’s war,” Reynders pointed out.
The Golden Passport programme in Cyprus allowed rich foreigners to obtain citizenship by making a financial contribution of at least €2.5 million. The plan, which generated approximately €9.7 million from 2007 to 2020, was suspended following reports of its involvement in criminal activities.
According to the Probe investigation, this programme gave 6,779 Cypriot citizenships between 2007 and 2020.
In the case of Malta, the European Commission indicated last year that it will take the country to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as a result of its involvement in illegal activities.
Furthermore, it was discovered in March of this year that a fund that controls hundreds of millions of euros brought to the country under the Citizenship by Investment plan had yet to make its audited statements for 2021 public.
By fLEXI tEAM