Cyprus courts Indian investors amidst tighter checks on Golden Visa scheme

Cyprus courts Indian investors amid tighter checks on Golden Visa scheme

Cyprus is looking to build on growing interest from wealthy Indians looking for a holiday home abroad as the Ayia Napa Marina hooks up with investment consultant Millwood Kane International (MKI).

The two companies announced a partnership on Thursday that involves promoting the Ayia Napa Marina development to Indian investors eyeing high yielding assets and Cyprus' citizenship via investment program.

"A 300 million-euro project, Ayia Napa Marina aims to tap into the niche Indian audience looking for attractive investment options along with luxurious lifestyle offerings," the companies said in a statement.

MKI is already drawing Indians to the island state that have warmed to Cyprus' business climate. Indians view Cyprus as one of the quickest ways to securing a residency that leads to Europe though this could soon change.

But at the same time, Cyprus has come under fire amidst allegations that it is running a "passports-for-cash" scheme. Cyprus officials strongly deny this.

Last week, Cyprus officials announced plans to tighten eligibility rules for the "golden passport" program that grants the document to wealthy foreign investors, by ruling out applicants who already were turned down by another European Union country with a similar policy.

The decision came after the EU recently warned Cyprus and other countries to increase background checks before awarding the passports due to concerns non-citizens were acquiring them to launder money and dodge tax laws.

The European Commission highlighted shortfalls in the Cypriot and Maltese schemes which do not sufficiently check the origins of wealth of individuals and do not allow their easy identification.

“In the EU, three member states (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta) currently operate schemes that grant investors the nationality of these countries under conditions which are less strict than ordinary naturalisation regimes,” the commission said. “In these three member states, there is no obligation of physical residence for the individual, nor a requirement of other genuine connections with the country before obtaining citizenship."

Under the Cyprus program, investors must put at least minimum 2 million euros into real estate or a Cyprus-based business.

According to Finance Minister Harris Georgiades, applicants seeking a passport from Cyprus will now be vetted by an international agency and required to have a visa permitting travel within the EU.

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