Kenyan billionaire Humphrey Kariuki and his wife Stella Nasike are among 26 investors that could lose their Cypriot passports due to strict citizenship rules introduced by the European tax haven.
According to various news agencies from Cyprus, the loss of citizenship is could be effected as soon as the end of this month, leaving Mr Kariuki who has since 2016 had dual citizenship to only have a Kenyan passport.
“Chinese national Zhang Shumin, reportedly linked to a gold scam, his wife and three children are on the same list as well as Kenyan Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa, believed to be involved in a financial scam and his wife,” the Cyprus Mail reported on Wednesday.
The loss of passports is as a result of a Cyprus Cabinet meeting three weeks ago that decided to introduce stricter controls.
“If there were nine investment cases, concerning 26 people among 4,000 applications, it is logical that some would be problematic when controls weren’t strict,” Cyprus Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides was quoted by the Cyprus Mail on November 4.
“There were mistakes, it was a mistake not to have criteria, for instance, for high-risk persons,” he said.
Mr Kariuki and a number of directors from African Spirits Limited are currently facing a Kenyan court over evasion of tax amounting to Sh41 billion.
Mr Kariuki, Wow Beverages directors Stuart Gerald Herd and Robert Thinji Muriithi, and Africa Spirits Directors Peter Njenga Kuria and Geoffrey Kaaria Kinoti Mbombua are facing a total of 21 counts of tax evasion and being in possession of counterfeit excise duty stamps.
His Janus Continental Group (JCG) has business interests in a number of countries on energy, real estate and hospitality.
In Kenya, Mr Kariuki is the owner of the luxurious Mt Kenya Safari Club in central Kenya and the Hub Mall in Nairobi's upmarket Karen, and is a shareholder of Dalbit Petroleum, among others.
While a Cypriot passport enables one to do business throughout the European Union, since Cyrus is a member, its investor citizenship has of late been criticised by other EU members and Transparency International, who fear it could become a “gateway to Europe for corrupt people and money laundering”, according to TI’s report released in August.
As a result, Cyprus has been under pressure from the EU to tighten entry of foreigners into the scheme.