On the 16th of October 2019 Reuters released a Special Report: Khmer Richer – How relatives and allies of Cambodia’s leader amassed wealth overseas. The special report outlines how Cambodia’s long-ruling prime minister, Hun Sen, and family members obtained the European citizenship via the Cyprus Investment Programme. More specifically the report mentions the niece and her husband, who is Cambodia’s national police chief, having invested in Cyprus and applied for citizenship. The Special Report goes on to specify that Hun Kimleng became a citizen of Cyprus in 2016 and to criticize the policies which Cyprus adopts:
Cyprus seems less strict [Compared to the US placing the individuals on a Visa Blacklist]. In the confidential document, the Cypriot interior minister urges the cabinet to grant citizenship to Neth Savoeun and two grown-up daughters, and notes that they have never visited Cyprus.
The Cyprus Governments Response
As a response to the special report the Cyprus Government announced that it would investigate the cases refereed in the media.
Current Prohibitions to the Cyprus Investment Programme
On the 25th of July 2019 the cabinet of ministers issued a new prohibited persons list which would aim to prohibit the granting of the Cyprus Citizenship to anyone falling within the criteria of the decision, continue reading on the prohibited persons list.
Although the prohibitions seem to be rough and quite restrictive they serve a key purpose. They ensure that people who are internationally scrutinized, investigated, politically exposed and perform questionable actions will never qualify for the Cyprus Investment Programme.
Accordingly if the prohibited persons to the Cyprus Investment Programme was introduced a few years ago the family members of Hun Sen would never have qualified for the Cyprus Investment Progamme and neither would they have obtained the European citizenship.
It is well with the government’s powers the possibility to withdraw the passports granted once the new prohibited persons criteria are applied.