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BUSINESSTODAY 7 November 2019

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7.11.19 2 NEWS FROM PAGE 1 Family members or allies of Cambo- dia's leader, including the police chief who has been instrumental in clamping down on dissent, and its finance minis- ter, received Cypriot citizenship in 2016 and 2017. Apart from accusations that everyone involved in the scheme failed to carry out proper due diligence in certain cas- es, detractors have also accused Presi- dent Nicos Anastasiades over the fact that the law firm bearings his name is also involved in securing 41 out of 4,000 citizenships. His son-in-law, Yiannis Misirlis, is also a developer and deputy chairman of LBDA, the Cypriot Land and Building Development Association, which has defended the government's investment for citizenship programme. In a statement, LBDA sought to em- phasise the programme's decisive con- tribution to the growth of the economy and the creation of long-term condi- tions of prosperity. It said criticising the scheme hurt the country's credibility and endangered everything that had been achieved in the past few years. According to the association, the pro- gramme contributed to the creation of "tens of thousands of jobs across many sectors of the economy" virtually affect- ing every household. e law firm involved in the Cambo- dian case belongs to the father former transport minister Marios Demetria- des. Cypriot interior ministry data showed that the firm was involved in 137 appli- cations between 2014 and 2018, a peri- od during which Marios Demetriades was a member of the cabinet that ap- proved them. Nationality granted "mistakenly" would be revoked if "errors" were un- covered in Mr Low's case and others, President Anastasiades said on Monday. No obligation for physical residence under Cypriot scheme Cyprus has earned about €6bn from issuing about 4,000 passports under the scheme since it was launched in 2013 to help the economy recover from a bank- ing sector collapse. ose seeking to obtain citizenship from Cyprus through its investment programme have no obligation to phys- ically reside in the country before, dur- ing or after the application process. ey are only required to visit Cyprus once to obtain a permit of permanent residency. Cyprus bills itself as offering the quickest route to citizenship of a Euro- pean country, promising visa-free travel to over 170 countries and access to free- dom of movement in the EU. Its scheme – which was first launched in 2013, in the midst of fiscal-banking crisis which crippled the island's econo- my – requires an investment of €2 mil- lion in either real estate, or in alterna- tive investment funds, the purchase of or participation in a Cypriot company, or a mix of all the options. It also requires a donation of €75,000 to the government's research and de- velopment fund and another €75,000 to the Land Development Corpora- tion. Moreover, a property worth at least €500,000 has to be held in per- petuity, although this property can be added to the €2 million portfolio if the investment is done purely in real es- tate. Within merely six months of such an investment, an applicant can be granted a Cypriot passport. The Maltese programme Conversely, Malta's IIP scheme, launched in 2014, requires that appli- cants provide evidence of a "genuine link" with Malta, supported by writ- ten approval from Identity Malta. Cit- izenship can only be granted after 12 months from the effective date of the commencement of the genuine link, with candidates also having to com- mit to a minimum physical presence in Malta before such granting. To be eligible for Maltese citizenship under the IIP scheme, main applicants must make a €650,000 payment to the government. ey have to also lease a property for a minimum of €16,000 a year, or purchase one worth at least €300,000. ey are further required to acquire €150,000 worth of stocks, bonds, debentures, special purpose ve- hicles or other investments. Applicants or dependents, moreover, have to undergo a "fit and proper" test, and cannot have a criminal record or be facing pending charges related to charges such as terrorism and money laundering. From the date of initial residen- cy, a passport takes 12 months to be issued. During the 12-month residency requirement, IIP agents may still submit citizenship appli- cations. However, citizenship will only be granted after the 12-month period from the acquisition of residen- cy. A Maltese passport allows visa-free travel to over 166 countries, and the right to live, work and study in all EU and EFTA member states. e EU has responded to growing criticism of golden visa schemes across the bloc by setting up an expert group to recommend improvements to their "transparency, governance and secu- rity". is would include tougher safe- guards against tax evasion and corrup- tion. Maltese scheme 'one of the leading programmes worldwide' When contacted by BusinessToday, citizenship parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli said that while certain quarters will always be unjust- ly critical, Malta's Individual Investor Programme was praised and acknowl- edged as one of the leading investment programmes worldwide by others. "e IIP Agency has been at the fore- front to implement a rigorous due dil- igence process, which has constantly developed along the years. It employs significant background checks and hence the process is rather lengthy." she said. "It is the only programme to have a four-tier due diligence process which results in a 22% refusal rate one of the highest, if not the highest, in the industry." Farrugia Portelli said that Malta is the only country in which such programme is controlled by an independent regula- tor which examines the process of every file to ensure proper running. Malta is also one of the few EU countries to pub- lish the names of all the people granted Maltese citizenship. "e IIP Agency still constantly seeks to make the programme more efficient and effective and continues to identify areas for improvement to further ensure that only the right individuals make it through. It also advocates internation- ally to improve the standards across the industry worldwide," she said. Another unique aspect of the Maltese programme is the actual contribution to the Government. is is not refundable and, unlike other similar programmes, the applicants cannot divest from it and make a profit on the investment. Cyprus offers quickest route to European citizenship, with no residency requirement Advertisement in Paphos for investing in Cyprus which can lead to citizenship Parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli

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