Cyprus Citizenship – can it be revoked?

Posted on 06 Nov 2019, by Eleni Drakou

The Cyprus Investment Program had come under attack in recent weeks, after it was reported that persons with close links to their home country’s authoritarian regime had been granted Cypriot citizenship. Over the weekend it was further revealed that a businessman wanted by the authorities of his home country and elsewhere, had been granted Cypriot citizenship in 2015.

Therefore, as a response to the heightened tension that surfaced due to the exposure of high-risk individuals that have received Cypriot citizenship, Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades has pledged to revoke Cypriot citizenship if it is found to have been “mistakenly” granted.

Earlier this year, the government, responding to criticism about lax procedures, made some corrective moves and introduced much tougher criteria for the scheme and has also decided to use the services of three private companies to carry out due diligence checks on all applicants.The President stated that “errors” may have been made in granting citizenships to persons under the earlier version of the programme where vetting may have failed to identify them as ineligible.

Therefore, according to the President’s comments, a search will be conducted to citizenships granted according to the previous scheme which involved less thorough checks. This means that previously approved applications will be re-examined in light of the current criteria which implement a more rigid due diligence check. In cases where it is proved that a person would not have been granted citizenship should the new criteria have been implemented, then that citizenship might be revoked, provided always that the law’s provisions are met.

According to the Civil Registry Law 141(I)/2002 as amended, a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus who is a citizen by registration or by naturalization (including persons who have been granted the citizenship according to the provisions of the Cyprus Investment Program), ceases to be a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus if he/she is deprived of his/her citizenship by an Order of the Council of Ministers, if the Council of Ministers is satisfied that the citizen -

(a)          With actions or with words has shown lack of loyalty or disfavour to the Republic, or

(b)          In any war carried out by the Republic, he/she has illegally engaged in a transaction or contacted the enemy or engaged in, or participated in, any action which in his/her knowledge was conducted in such a way as to assist the enemy in the war; or

(c)           Within ten (10) years of registration or naturalization, has been sentenced in any country to imprisonment for a particularly harsh offense or for an offense of moral obscenity, provided that such conviction refers to an offence which is also considered as an offence in the Republic, which is particularly hideous or refers to moral obscenity and which is subject to imprisonment.

Moreover, the Council of Ministers may by Order deprive any such citizen of the status of a citizen of the Republic if it is satisfied that the registration or the certificate of naturalization has been obtained by fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact.

In addition to the above reasons, the Council of Ministers may, by Order, deprive any citizen of the Republic, who is a naturalized person, his status as a citizen if the Council of Ministers is satisfied that this person usually resided in foreign countries for a continuous period of seven years and during this period, he/she has not -

(a)          been at any given time in the service of the Republic or of an International Organization of which the Republic is a member; or

(b)          notified each year, with the prescribed manner, to the Consulate of the Republic his/her intention to maintain his/her status as a citizen of the Republic.

It is highlighted that the Council of Ministers shall not deprive any person of his/her status as a citizen unless the Council of Ministers is satisfied that it does not serve the public interest that such a person continues to be a citizen of the Republic.

In all the cases, before issuing an Order, the Council of Ministers shall give the relevant person a written notice informing him/her of the reason for the issuance of such an Order.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. For any further information please contact Eleni Drakou, Senior Associate and Director of Business Development of Michael Kyprianou and Co LLC by email at eleni.drakou@kyprianou.com or by phone at +357 25 363685.