A batch of new high profile Russian Oligarchs have been leaked as gaining EU passports and visa free access to Europe under the Cyprus Citizenship-by-Investment Programme. The disclosures have undoubtedly caused a stir as concerned politicians worry about the large numbers of the Russian and Ukrainian elite who have gained EU citizenship via the scheme over the last four years.
Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska
Mr Deripaska is an influential Russian businessman and philanthropist as founder and owner of one of the largest aluminium companies in the world, with connections to President Putin and Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager.
Mr Deripaska is one of hundreds of affluent and wealthy individuals who have applied for Cypriot nationality since the schemes conception in 2014. Documents show that his application was approved towards the end of last year after a failed previous application with the Cyprus immigration authorities.
Mr Deripaska has denied claims surrounding his involvement in the back door between the Kremlin and the Trump campaigns success, with allegations of sabotaging the opposition.
Viktor Felixovich Vekselberg
Another wealthy investor the island also offered citizenship to is Ukrainian-born Russian businessman, Mr Viktor Vekselberg, a Majority Shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus no less. Mr Vekselberg is also the founder of Renova Group, a large Russian corporation.
In 2015, his fortune was estimated to be USD $14B, making him the fourth richest person in Russia. According to reports, Mr Vekselberg may have turned the offer down due to his spokesman stating he only had Russian citizenship.
Both men have appeared on lists distributed by the US Treasury in January of oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin. On this occasion, Mr Deripaska was asked to resubmit his citizenship application in 2016 due to preliminary inquiries into his affairs in Belgium which were later dropped.
This is reaffirms the Cyprus government’s continued claims of severely screening all investors and applicants including source of wealth and criminal checks. The Cyprus’s council of ministers sent Mr Deripaska’s application back to the island’s interior ministry, requesting to investigate further. Cyprus is the biggest European investor in Russia and a number of Russian nationals have acquired Cypriot passports, which has been a much welcomed income injector into the Cyprus economy.