Cyprus Investment Program - Changes & Procedures By: Pelecanos & Pelecanou LLC
On the 21st of May 2018, the Cyprus Council of Ministers introduced some revised and new criteria in relation to the Cyprus Investment Program under the effort to maintain the momentum of the scheme’s success but at the same time eliminate any future financial risks.
The Program has previously come under harsh criticisms citing for a fiscal derailment in the future due to irrational high real estate prices and various loopholes.
As the Press and Information Office (PIO) said in an announcement after the cabinet meeting: “The Cyprus Citizenship-by-investment scheme has now been renamed to ‘Cyprus Investment Program’ and instantly provides more safeguards for all interested parties; foreign applicants, service providers and the island’s economy.”
All investigations and monitoring for the correct implementation of the below criteria will be carried out by the newly introduced Regulatory Authority – ‘The Committee of Supervision and Control’. The latter consists of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Interior and the non-profit company Invest Cyprus.
Suffice to say that the main qualifying (financial) criteria for Cyprus Citizenship still apply, as stipulated in the previous scheme.
Interested Parties can find below all information needed for the most important changes under the renewed scheme.
Annual Limit for Applications:
The Government decided to restrict the number of naturalisations of investors granted under the citizenship scheme and introduced an annual cap of 700 applications. The said limitation will begin to apply from the year of 2018.
Eligible Registered Service Providers:
- Code of Conduct:
Property developers, law and accounting firms and other professionals that wish to continue offering this service are now required to sign and adhere at all times a newly introduced Code of Conduct. Service Providers are obliged, among others, to verify the legitimacy of an investor’s funds and refrain from advertising the scheme as a Cypriot passport sale. The Ministry of Finance added that ‘this Code of Conduct has been adopted with clear provisions to avoid exaggerations and abusive practices’.
From July 31st of 2018 onwards, applications will only be accepted from providers that have registered with the scheme’s supervisory body and who have signed up to the Code of Conduct.
- Special Registry:
On the 31st of July 2018, a Registry will be published on the websites of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Interior and Invest Cyprus. The said Registry will be publicly available and will serve as verification index as to which of the Service Providers are actually eligible.
- Approved Publications:
Cypriot authorities were concerned about service providers actively advertising the scheme on their websites or in foreign and social media. Many given information was incorrect or even misguiding. Under the Code of Conduct, before the publication of any material, a special approval needs to the granted by the Committee. Similar to what is applied under the Tourist Sector Industry of the island.
- Preliminary Actions:
Upon the commencement of business relationship with a client, every Service Provider shall produce an Engagement Letter that clearly specifies the obligations and rights of each party but also the terms & conditions in case of any disagreement.
Applicants will have to wait up to six months for their applications to be examined. While investors have to remain owners of their investment for a minimum three-year period, in the case of buyers of real estate, the period now begins with the issue of a town planning permit. In case where the permit is already issued at the time of the application, the minimum period of three years begins to count from the date of issuance of the naturalisation certificate.
Enhanced Due Diligence Procedure:
Notably, every application will also be subjected to an Enhanced Due Diligence Procedures under the combat against money laundering and corruption.
From 1st August 2018, all Service Providers shall generate a Due Diligence Report (also known as screening process) from an internationally recognised and accredited firm (e.g. World Check, LexisNexis Diligence, Regulatory DataCorp Inc, etc). This Report have to accompany the application and must be dated not later than thirty days from the date of submission.
Protection of Personal Data:
All information, documentation and any other data provided from the client to the Service Provider shall be protected under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has implemented on the island since the 25th of May 2018. All Service Providers are already obliged to take all reasonable steps and apply the Regulation.
We reiterate our commitment in offering services that exceed your expectations. Our goal is to simplify the process and provide you assistance from the moment of application until even after the acquisition of Citizenship, with the most cost effective and efficient way possible. We are keen to assist you with any queries that you may have on the matter.