In what can be considered a strike back against claims of “selling” EU passports for cash, Cyprus has announced that it will tighten the reigns on the vetting procedures for granting Cypriot citizenship to investors.

Harris Georgiades, finance minister of Cyprus has said that stringent controls have been introduced and the number of passports granted per year has been limited to 700. He further added that apart from checks by the Cypriot authorities, due diligence checks will be conducted by specialized foreign firms on a case-wise basis.

Mr. Georgiades did not hesitate to make it clear that the amendments actually serve to make the process transparent and reliable, and prove that citizenship was being granted on the basis of merit alone.

In a recent slew of criticisms against Cyprus, the island country was implied to “sell” passports to wealthy Chinese and Russian nationals.

Introduced after Cyprus’ near-bankruptcy situation in 2013, the scheme is meant to raise much needed cash in the form of investment from foreign nationals. Eligibility criteria include (but are not limited to) making a minimum of a two-million-euro investment in business, property, and/or government bonds, and a willingness to shift their permanent residence to Cyprus. Often dubbed as the “golden visa” scheme, the program has generated around €4.8 billion as of 2016.