Cyprus Strips Russian Businessmen of Citizenship

Cyprus Strips Russian Businessmen of Citizenship
Several Russian business captains and their family members have lost Cypriot citizenship, which they received in exchange for investments in the Cypriot infrastructure. Among them, media reports points out Oleg Deripaska.

The Cypriot authorities have announced that several Russian businessmen will be deprived of Cypriot passports. The Greek newspaper Politis reported that these businessmen had made investments in the Cypriot economy as specified by national legislation to gain the citizenship. Mentioned among the Russians, who are no longer Cypriot citizens, is a certain Oleg Deribaska, as well as his daughter and his son. RBC added that so far, there has been no confirmation or refutation of whether the decision concerns Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. The list of other individuals who have lost their “golden passports” includes Vladimir Stolyarenko, his wife and his daughter, as well as Alexander Bondarenko, his wife and two sons.

Deripaska's closest associates are not commenting on the publication. RBC recalls that his Cypriot citizenship was officially confirmed last spring. The Cypriot government refrains from publishing the list of foreign citizens, whom it granted citizenship to in exchange for investments. The fact that the list of “golden passports” holders would be overviewed became known in early November. The country's authorities said that the check had revealed violations of the citizenship of twenty-six individuals, including some Russians. The list of violators has not been published yet. Then Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis warned that those who had abused the passport-for-investment program would be deprived of their citizenship unconditionally.

Meanwhile, according to Forbes, Politis means Deripaska by “Deribaska.” Forbes has also found out some details regarding the occupation and place of employment of other Russians on the list. Stolyarenko used to be president of Eurofinance Mosnarbank, while Bondarenko had been its first vice-president at the same time. It should be noted that Eurofinance Mosnarbank became widely known after coming under U.S. sanctions for cooperation with Venezuelan state oil companies -- Washington interpreted its actions as financial support to official Caracas. Russian investigative authorities have claims against Bondarenko and Stolyarenko -- both financiers are internationally wanted.

The list of the holders of cancelled passports published by the Cypriot government practically coincides with the preliminary information of AlphaNews TV channel and Cyprus Times newspaper. Both announced that nine Russians would be stripped of Cypriot citizenship. In fact, there were ten of them. Among the other personalities on the blacklist are eight Cambodians, five Chinese, two Kenyans and the nationals of Iran and Malaysia, one from each country. All of them had received “golden passports” on the basis of nine transactions on investing in the Cypriot economy. In fact, nine investors have lost their citizenship, and 17 other individuals from the list were their closest relatives who had taken up their citizenship under the terms of transactions.

Earlier, Konstantinos Petridis, Cyprus’s Interior Minister, claimed that those passport-holders started to be investigated after Interpol had launched – some of them were included in the database of wanted persons. Petridis indicated that the revoked passports had been issued in 2012-2017. AlphaNews insiders said that individuals sanctioned by the European Union or convicted of crimes against human rights might be also stripped of the Cypriot citizenship. According to the Cypriot legislation, people on the list have the right to appeal against the revocation of their passports.

Petridis also stated that more than 26 people are likely lose their citizenship. Investor checks are going on and new violations may still surface. According to the Mediatechnolog portal, Dmitry Ananyev, the former Promsvyazbank co-owner, might also lose his Cypriot citizenship due to some suspicious transactions. The authors of the news portal recalled that the Cypriot government had started active probing into the lists of cash-for-visa investors at a request from Brussels. The EU authorities believe that the passport-for-investment program is risky for the state seeking to join the Schengen zone. The revoking of Cypriot passports may result in difficulties with gaining citizenship of other EU countries – the above-mentioned Russian businessmen are likely to get automatic visa refusals.