Cyprus Has No Reports on Egyptians Involved in Money Laundering Case – Minister

Cyprus Citizenship Granted to Investors on Making €5 mln Direct Investments

It’s true, life is full of surprises. You never know where and when, but truly there are endless surprises anywhere and everywhere. Last week, I was invited to join an official media mission to Cyprus. For a moment, the severe economic crisis haunted by Cyprus and circulated by the mass media had just crossed my mind. An economic crisis has driven banks in Cyprus to shut down, failed to pay the salaries to their employees.

Notwithstanding the state of economic stalemate I have drawn in my mind about Cyprus, what I have found there was a mere opposite. In Cyprus, I have acknowledged a new definition for the Cypriot financial crisis and how to deal with economic hardships. If you ask any Official in Cyprus, you will find him strongly believe that “Crises induce new opportunities. Hence, Cypriots are giving it their best shot.”

A country which lies in a total area of 9.250 Km, we see the Cypriot head of state is meeting with every investor in his country who faces business obstacles. In addition, we see the officials in every single statement they made expressing their insistence on coming out of the dark tunnel of the current economic stalemate at any cost even if they are still being haunted by other challenges; the ongoing financial crisis and the Turkish occupation since 1974.

The Egyptian media mission which visited Nicosia last week, had held a number of meetings with the purpose of bolstering bilateral relations between Cyprus and Egypt within the current phase since both countries are facing quite similar economic critical situation, but with different reasons behind each country’s crisis.

One of the meetings held by the Egyptian media mission was with Cyprus’s Interior Minister H.E. Socrates Hasikos whose ministry is in charge of customs, residence and work permits, as well as alluring foreign investments through providing market facilities for the foreign firms and removing all the obstacles.

During receiving the Egyptian media mission, Minister Hasikos pointed out that his country has undergone a severe economic phase during the previous period. However, he said Cyprus is recovering now and will reach a secured economic status soon backed by boosting the local and foreign investments by virtue of its strategic location and EU membership.

The Cypriot minister further referred that his country offers permanent residence for the non-EU nationals on condition of  purchasing in Cyprus one or two new real estate properties with total purchase cost of at least €300,000 (excluding VAT) and depositing at least €30,000 in a bank operating in Cyprus in a 3-year Fixed Deposit Account.

Moreover, the minister said Cyprus decided to implement the “investment citizenship program” offering some investors Cypriot citizenship on condition of investing an amount of at least €2 million for the purchase of shares or bonds of an investment company of the State besides an amount of at least €0,5 million as a donation to the Research and Technology Fund. In case of making direct investments, the investors who are willing to obtain Cyprus citizenship are required to make direct investments in Cyprus of at least €5 million, he added.

Another way to get the Cyprus citizenship is that investors must have personal deposits or deposits of his private companies (in which he is the final beneficiary) of at least €5 million in Cyprus Banks for a fixed period of three years, in the Republic of Cyprus.

Within 3 months, the Cyprus citizenship is granted to the applicant, the minister added.  Yet,  the investor can be stripped of the Cyprus citizenship if he is proven to be practicing money laundering or to be a member of a terrorist organization.  The minister noted that authorities in Cyprus have not rejected until the moment any citizenship requests.

For the taxes imposed on the foreigners, Minister Hasikos has asserted that the taxes which have been imposed by Cyprus are much less in compared to other European states, pointing out that many citizens of the third world countries, including Egypt and other Arab states,  are keen on buying real estate properties and obtaining Cypriot citizenship.

The Minister said the Cypriot government welcomes any investments from the Egyptian side. He added that his country is willing to attract Egyptian entrepreneurs, notably the investment segment up to € 5 million, noting that the Cypriot government will work on assisting the Egyptian entrepreneurs in directing their investments into the right track as well as on securing their funds, whether those which have been invested in projects or been deposited in banks.

The Minister also said he hopes Egypt would reach a peaceful compromise in order to end its current crisis soon and hold parliamentary and presidential elections as pursuant to a new constitution. He also wished that Egypt would establish a democratic regime that meets with the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptian people.

He has emphasized that the laws in Cyprus are protecting any foreign investments in its lands, highlighting the fact that his country is applying EU’s laws which include all the investments. Cyprus provides the foreign investor with all the pieces of information he needs during investing in the country and helps him in case of facing any urgent dilemma, the minister added.

He has affirmed that Cyprus is not only facing illegal immigration as the case in some other countries, but also incurring the Turkish occupation. The country is facing intruders from the Turkish side hoping the borders, he added.

The minister further referred that the majority of illegal immigrants have overstayed their visas, but the authorities in Cyprus are strongly facing the problem, noting that his country does not grant Schengen Visas directly, but within a cooperation framework with Greece.

However,  the minister said the Cypriot government has no authority over the lands occupied by Turkey and therefore Cyprus remains helpless in preventing the crime in the occupied lands but if an offender there is proven to be guilty, the Cypriot security officers will arrest him by virtue of being able to collect information about the criminals in those areas with the collaboration with the UN.

He has pointed out that the Interior Minister in Cyprus is civilian and does not have any military affiliation, explaining that anyone can see him walking without guards and sitting in any café. The Cypriot interior minister has the right to possess his own project. He noted that he already owns a newspaper as well as radio and TV stations.

On the return of the funds smuggled from Egypt to Cyprus, the minister said he does not have any information regarding Egyptians wanted to be extradited from Cyprus, pointing out that the Cypriot Finance Ministry as well as the competent authorities in charge of money laundering are entitled to handle all the issues related to the smuggled  funds.

The Cypriot minister concluded by saying his country is condemning any violent incidents in Egypt, notably the attacks against  places of worship and the violence practiced against the Copts in Egypt. He added that he was informed by the media about an attack on a Coptic church during a wedding party in which two people were killed, Cyprus condemns  those events, calling the authorities to provide more protection for the worship places in Egypt.