Inside Limassol, Cyprus, a playground for Russian oligarchs
While the salty ocean breeze and scorching sun are alluring, what appeals to many wealthy individuals are the country’s favorable tax laws (and once, its lax citizenship requirements).
Following its near financial collapse, Cyprus revamped its citizen investment program, which was initially launched in 2007, according to Al Jazeera and France24. At the time, anyone willing to pay at least 2 million euros, or about $2.2 million, for a property could obtain Cypriot citizenship. Essentially, the program allowed wealthy people to buy a European passport.
Of 2,544 people who received passports under the program between 2017 and 2019, almost half were Russian, according to a 2020 Al Jazeera survey. And they included at least nine oligarchs, who are each worth more than a billion dollars, according to Al Jazeera. In 2020, Cyprus received $8 billion from the program, much of it coming from new Russian residents, according to Al Jazeera.
The program has since been scrapped, but it’s not just the relaxed citizenship requirements that have attracted wealthy individuals to the country; Cyprus also has attractive tax laws.
In a 2017 survey of Russian business owners in Cyprus, the overwhelming majority said Cyprus’ “greatest advantage as a business destination” was the country’s tax regime. This tax regime includes elements such as an exemption on the transfer of securities, no inheritance tax and no
tax, according to the survey of the Cypriot-Russian Business Association.