The Editor-in-chief of Les Echos, Lucie Robequain, contacted me at the end of last year to help her write an article on Second Citizenship. Les Echos can be considered as the French Financial Times, though it has of course a smaller audience. We agreed to see each other in Cyprus and my business partner Ilona Iranyi and I met her in November on a sunny afternoon at the terrace of Thalassaki, a popular cafe overlooking the sea in Limassol. We had a pleasant discussion though we understood very quickly that she was not objective. It became clear after five minutes that her main agenda was to demonstrate that citizenship by investment was somewhat immoral and that Russian high net worth clients should not have the right to obtain a European citizenship based on the fact they could afford it and invest in the local economy. We then took her to the Marina of Limassol and she seemed genuinely impressed by what they had achieved to build thanks to foreign investment coming from the citizenship by investment program.
The result of her “research” and interviews produced the following article titled “Chypre, marchand de passeports européens”, which can be translated to “Cyprus, merchant of European passports”. It is a very disparaging and judgemental attribute for a beautiful country that has done a fantastic job both in terms of economy and tourism and has nothing to envy to many other European countries. The proportion of French passports or British passports given to foreigners, some of them given to individuals with very questionable intentions, bears no comparaison to the small amount of Cypriot passports granted. But the chief editor of France’s leading financial newspaper feels entitled to take the high ground and judge this small nation, a country which is safer than France (based on homicide rate). As for money laundering, according to the Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index , Cyprus is very close to both the UK and France (with respective rankings of 115, 118, 128) and fares better than other EU countries such as Hungary, Italy of Luxembourg (with respective rankings 94, 95, 96), higher ranking being the best. As another comparaison, countries like China or Pakistan ranks 51 and 46.
Ilona and I are quoted several times in this article. I let you judge for yourself the content, I have posted a rough translation in English by google translate, otherwise if you speak French you are read the original: