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Two Kenyan tycoons to lose Cypriot citizenship

Friday November 8 2019

Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides

Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides. PHOTO | AGENCIES 

JOHN KAMAU
By JOHN KAMAU
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and agencies

Two Kenyan investors are among 26 individuals to be stripped of Cypriot citizenship issued under the secretive passports-for-investment scheme.

The programme saw several billionaires use the country to hide their wealth.

Cyprus came under heavy criticism following disclosures that the island had become the gateway to Europe in exchange for a minimum of Sh220 million investment, which was used to buy passports and visa-free travel in European Union countries.

By Thursday evening, it was not clear which of the few Kenyans who bought into the scheme was targeted.

In the five years from the beginning of the plan to 2018, the Cypriot Government approved 1,864 citizenship applications.

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Rescinding citizenship is unusual. The decision came after authorities launched investigations following the report.

“The Council of Ministers affirmed [on Thursday] the will of the government for strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Cyprus investment programme,” Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides told journalists after a four-hour cabinet meeting.

Mr Petrides did not disclose the nationalities or identities of those affected, but said it also concerned people whose names were mentioned in media reports.

Cypriot sources told Reuters that the group included nine Russians, eight Cambodians, five Chinese, two Kenyans, a Malaysian and an Iranian.

Advertising the scheme is now banned, but at least one law office used to distribute pamphlets resembling passports to visitors at the island’s main airport.

Authorities say the plan has gone through transformation and was overhauled in February with five due-diligence layers, compared with one in 2013.