Former Google CEO has applied to become a citizen of Cyprus
According to foreign media reports, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is finalizing his plan to become a citizen of Cyprus, which will make him the most high-profile American using the world’s most controversial “passport sale” project one. According to a previously unreported notice issued by a Cyprus publication in October last year, Schmidt and his family, one of the richest people in the United States, have been allowed to become citizens of this Mediterranean country.
It is not clear why Schmidt pursued foreign nationality, but the new passport gives him the ability to travel to EU countries while still enjoying a tax system that is potentially beneficial to him.
This move has opened a window for people to understand how the world’s billionaires rely on the loose laws of the countries in which they live to maximize their freedom and financial resources. Schmidt’s decision reflects to some extent the approach of Peter Thiel, another famous tech billionaire. In 2011, the industry leader obtained New Zealand citizenship, which caused controversy at the time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans’ interest in non-US citizenship rose sharply, which severely restricted Americans’ ability to travel abroad. Experts say that part of this growth is due to concerns about political instability in the United States.
However, according to published data and consultations obtained from citizen consultants working for Cyprus, it is still uncommon for Americans to apply for projects in Cyprus. This project is more popular among the former Soviet Union and Middle Eastern oligarchs, and it was closed last month because of too many scandals.
A representative of Schmidt declined to comment on this move or Schmidt’s ideas.
It is reported that the Cyprus project is one of the types of projects in the world (a total of six). In these projects, foreigners can effectively purchase citizenship rights by paying or investing in the host country, thereby bypassing residency requirements or lengthy queuing procedures. They have become the latest way for billionaires around the world to achieve “borderlessness” by using foreign laws to transfer themselves overseas, just as they might transfer their assets overseas. Journalist Oliver Bullough wrote in his recent book “Moneyland” This phenomenon is documented in.
Starting with St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, some small financially difficult countries have accepted this idea in the past few decades, and they have made a lot of money in exchange for citizenship. But this kind of practice that benefits a certain country can destroy the world. Especially the Cyprus plan, although it has received US$8 billion in aid since 2013 to help it escape the effects of bankruptcy, the plan has become notorious.
According to a person who advised on the application for Cypriot citizenship, since 2013, most of the 4,000 people who have obtained Cypriot citizenship are rich people from Russia. Historically, it has not even been marketed to Americans, because American passports usually allow them to travel freely in Europe. However, the use of the program by Americans is not unheard of, and the staff said it has become more frequent in the past few months.
A survey by Al Jazeera found that only 32 (about 1%) of the 2500 people who bought Cyprus citizenship between 2017 and 2019 were Americans.
This investigation led to the end of the plan to some extent. The reporter in charge of the secret investigation found that the Cypriot government officials stated that they could still arrange passports for the person despite being told that the person was a criminal. The scandal eventually led to the resignation of the relevant officials. Cyprus announced in mid-October this year that it would close the project due to abusive exploitation. Coincidentally, it was around this time that Schmidt’s approval was announced.
It is unclear whether the new coronavirus and new travel restrictions may have played any role in Schmidt’s decision to apply for Cyprus. According to consultants, Schmidt may have applied for it six months and about a year before the epidemic raged-the epidemic had not yet begun. According to the list listed by the Cyprus publication Alithia, Schmidt’s wife, philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, and daughter, media executive Sophie Schmidt, also applied and received approval.
Theo Andreou is the head of the investment immigration company Astons Cyprus project. He spent that 90% of the company’s clients seek Cypriot citizenship either as a backup plan or out of concerns about the country such as Covid-19 or economic reasons. Andreou speculated that Schmidt’s move may have two reasons: the backup plan during the Coronavirus and the business considerations based on the expansion in Europe.
Nuri Katz, founder of Apex Capital Partners, who has provided immigration advice to the Cyprus government, believes that Schmidt should feel the need to diversify his nationality.
Individuals declaring Cypriot citizenship will also be attracted by tax cuts, especially if they are willing to give up their U.S. citizenship. Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk said that his only US client applied for Cypriot citizenship to avoid paying US income tax.
It is reported that the method of operation of the program is that once foreigners have invested US$2 million to US$3 million in Cyprus-usually by purchasing real estate, they can apply for the “Citizenship by investment” program. After the government reviews the applicant’s background, conducts security checks, and receives visits from the foreigner, his application can be approved.
Schmidt has a net worth of US$15 billion and owns a large number of real estate in the United States. He is a bigwig in the technology industry: during his long-term tenure as CEO of Google, he helped the company grow into an international giant and became the company’s lobbying plan in the United States. Pointed figure. Although he resigned as CEO in 2011 and left the board of directors last year, he is still the company’s technical advisor and one of the company’s largest shareholders. Today, he spends most of his time at Schmidt Futures as a philanthropist, investor, and democratic political donor.
While at Google, Schmidt supported the company to pay as little tax as possible, even if it meant using foreign tax rules. For a long time, the company has been accused of using foreign tax regulations in places such as Bermuda or the United Kingdom to fail to pay its due US taxes.