Former Google CEO Reportedly Granted Cypriot Citizenship

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his family have now become citizens of the island nation of Cyprus, according to Cypriot and foreign media reports.

The former software magnate and CEO, who is now worth a cool $19.2 billion as of Sunday, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, appears to have taken advantage of Cyprus’ generous program in which foreigners are granted citizenship after investing between $2 million to $3 million in the country.

Otherwise known as the “Golden Visa” program, Cyprus’ citizenship program has come under a great deal of scrutiny lately, with the Speaker of its Parliament being ousted from his position after being the object of a sting operation involving the sale of visas to convicted criminals.

Al Jazeera published a blistering series of reports which documented the sale of a passport to someone who was portrayed by an undercover reporter as a Chinese friend who had been convicted of money laundering.

Cyprus law states that foreigners may be granted Cypriot citizenship if they have owned property worth at least 2 million euros for more than five years there. However, the more than generous scheme has historically attracted a great deal more Russian oligarchs than US technology moguls.

82nd-Wealthiest Man in the World

The 65-year-old Schmidt, who was at the helm of the tech giant from 2001 until 2011, is currently the 82nd richest man in the entire world.

According to the website Recode and the Cypriot newspaper Alithia, Schmidt and his wife Wendy and daughter Sophie have been granted approval to become citizens of the island nation, which has long been known for being a tax haven and a place where money laundering has been rife.

Owning a Cypriot passport would give Schmidt the ability to freely enter all the nations of the European Union and avoid some coronavirus travel bans.

Cyprus’ long-standing “Citizenship by Investment” program provides significant tax breaks to foreigners who invest between $2 million and $3 million into the country. The Recode report stated that Schmidt most likely applied for citizenship within the past year.

There was no response to a request on the part of CNBC for a comment from Schmidt or one of his representatives.

He had served as the chief executive of Google from 2001 to 2011, before he was made executive chairman of the firm. He subsequently moved on to the executive chairmanship of Alphabet, where he served until 2018.