The government of Cyprus is under mounting pressure to overhaul its so-called golden visa scheme which offers foreigners residence and citizenship rights if they invest millions of euros in the country.

The leader of the Cyprus Green Party, George Perdikis, warned the way the scheme is being managed could bring EU sanctions, said Forbes magazine, while an official from the major opposition AKEL, accused the government of setting up a money-making industry that is offering EU passports to criminals.

Similar warnings have also come from Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

As reported by Tornos News online, the OECD report had said that tax cheats and others who shouldn’t be eligible for EU visas are exploiting the scheme of buying residency permits because of their wealth, the source of some unknown.

Cyprus and Malta, where a journalist investigating corruption and money laundering was murdered, were the only European Union countries on the OECD black list, said the Cyprus Mail.

The other countries on the list were Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

But golden visa programmes are available in 13 EU countries: Austria, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, Greece, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Britain, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and France. Hungary has terminated its programme.