Cyprus ‘Golden Passports’ Scheme, a Laundering Risk Says Watchdog

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The passport scheme launched by the Mediterranean island in 2013 and run secretly in Cyprus, which has helped over 3000 people obtained citizen, has been confirmed to be vulnerable to money laundering. Experts from MONEYVAL said in a report on Wednesday that although Cyprus has made a significant effort to fight money laundering risks, however, there is a high tendency for an exponential increase in vulnerabilities in the Passport investment program through the real estate because criminals are fond of using real estate since it will appreciate over time. MONEYVAL said preventive measures should be developed to enhance monitoring of the real estate sector by real estate agents. It was also reported that a total of 6.64 billion euros worth of investment was generated by the scheme between 2013 and 2018.

A review on Cyprus concluded in May 2019 showed that currently was not active at freezing and confiscating proceeds from crimes. MONEYAL therefore, set up an enhanced follow up procedure and expects Cyprus to report again in 2021. Also, regarding the passport scheme that poses a high risk, the country said it will review the processes and incorporate measures to further strengthen the security of the program.