MICOSIA, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- New criteria for the citizenship by investment scheme, which were approved by the Cypriot government several months ago and will include a due diligence on applicants, are to be introduced next week after being finalized by appropriate authorities, local newspaper reported on Saturday.
Criticism from the European Commission and bad publicity forced the Cypriot government to introduce stricter criteria for the scheme, under which individuals who invest 2 million euros could get a Cypriot passport and travel and stay freely in any EU member.
In the past, these investments were usually in luxury real estate, and partially helped the construction sector and the economy to recover from the 2013 crisis.
Kathimerini (Daily) newspaper said in a report that three firms, which have not been named, have been chosen to carry out due diligence on every applicant that will replace the simple requirement for a clean criminal record.
The due diligence checks will cost the government 1.4 million euros a year.
Under the new criteria decided by the Council of Ministers, "politically exposed persons" and individuals under sanctions will not be eligible for the program.
Investors will also have to make an obligatory payment of 75,000 euros each to the Research and Innovation Foundation and the Cyprus Organization of Land Development, which will spend the money for the construction of housing for low income people.
The contribution to the foundation will be waived if the applicant invested the same amount to a certified innovative business or a certified social company. It would also be waived if the applicant invested 20 percent of the minimum amount for citizenship, 400,000 euros, in a Cyprus company involved in the primary or secondary sector of the economy or in the fields of research, technology, education, health and renewable energy. (1 euro = 1.13 U.S. dollars)