In addition to the scandalous case of granting citizenship to fugitive Malaysian financier Joe Lowe, the Church of Cyprus has been implicated in a number of other similar deals.
As it became known, the interim report of the Inquiry Committee includes two letters from Archbishop Chrysostomos II, as well as a letter from Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol, in which they apply for the issuance of Golden passports for a total of 12 foreign investors.
It is possible that the real number of such letters may be much higher, since the investigation has not yet been completed.
The report notes that Archbishop Chrysostomos II admitted that he sent about 10-20 such letters.
At the same time, the exact number of people to whom he asked to be granted Cypriot citizenship is not specified. The report also refers to numerous "interventions by clergy (besides the famous letter from Archbishop Chrysostom regarding Joe Lowe)", but does not disclose additional details.
It must be said that the fact that Archbishop Chrysostomos II influenced the change in the criteria for the sale of land plots is an indicator of the Church's direct involvement in the scandal with the Golden passports.
In fact, the conclusion draws the following conclusion: “at the insistence of the Church, the program included lands that had not yet been reclaimed, but could be reclaimed and belonged to the Church. The main argument, of course, was the need to boost the local economy and create new jobs. "
In addition, the Church has been implicated in a number of problematic naturalization cases.
The most famous of these is the granting of citizenship to Malaysian Joe Lowe. Chrysostomos II wrote two letters to the then Minister of the Interior, Socrates Hasicos, asking for a Cypriot passport for the businessman. According to the archbishop, the Malaysian financier was negotiating with the Church on investments in Church lands. However, Joe Lowe came to Cyprus, bought a villa for five million in Ayia Napa, received a Cypriot passport, and then 'got lost'.
As for the archbishop, during the interrogation of the Inquiry Committee, he said that he had nothing to do with this case.
Chrysostomos noted that he saw Joe Lowe once, at a dinner at the Archdiocese. The meeting lasted only 15 minutes, so the archbishop did not even have time to remember Lowe's faces. Chrysostomos stressed that he did not know at the time that Lowe was under investigation for financial crimes. Chrysostomos also stated that he got involved in this business because the villa, bought by the Malaysian as an investment, was built on church land.
Since the developer did not have the money for the title deed, Chrysostomos signed the guarantee. The developer who sold Lowe's villa asked Chrysostomos to send a note to the Minister of the Interior to expedite the Malaysian's passport case, and he did it. On the coast of Ayia Napa, in the Limnar area, three villas were built on a site owned by the Church. Each villa cost 5 million euros.
No less interesting was the case of an "investor" who owns a casino in the occupied territories of Cyprus and was involved in various illegal activities, for example, cigarette smuggling.
It turned out that Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol became his intermediary in obtaining the Golden passport.
The report says that the Church, in addition to the benefits it received from the sale of real estate, in many cases also collected donations from those who were given Golden passports after the patronage of the archbishop and other clergy. The same Joe Lowe wrote Chrysostomos a check for 310 thousand euros. It is noteworthy that despite the archbishop's assertions that the Malaysian made a donation to the account of the Theological School, it turned out that the check was written in the name of the Church.
And this is not the only such case.
According to the Committee, the Church received much larger donations. As the Minister of Finance Constantinos Petrides stated in his testimony to the Inquiry Committee, Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol once called him and asked to speed up the issuance of a passport to an investor who made a lot of donations to the Church fund in excess of 1 million euros. At the same time, in all cases when the archbishop and other clergymen interfered in the affairs of foreign investors, they quickly received Golden passports.
It is also noted that Chrysostomos and other clergymen in their letters emphasized the honesty, ethics and diligence of investors.
In fact, Petrides stated that the Metropolitan of Limassol introduced the investor to him as a "holy man." However, later it turned out that he has a casino in the occupied territories and is engaged in smuggling.
In conclusion, the report of the Inquiry Committee says that the donations received by the Archbishop from Joe Lowe, “may be a product of money laundering, therefore, a process of their collection by the competent services (MOKAS) should be initiated”.
Meanwhile, on Friday, May 7, attorney Andreas Pittadjis testified regarding his participation in the Cyprus investment program.
He called on Al Jazeera to release unedited videos of their secret documentary. Pittadjis said he was just playing along with the reporters to get more information out of them.
Pittadjis, along with former speaker of parliament Demetris Syllouris and former AKEL deputy and businessman Christakis Giovanis, became a defendant in the scandalous video of the Qatari publication Al Jazeera, in which he allegedly helps a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal past in obtaining a Cypriot passport.
It is noteworthy that both Syllouris and Giovanis recently refused to testify to the Inquiry Committee, using the right to silence.
Pittadjis is still desperately trying to defend his honor. He has already filed a number of lawsuits against Al Jazeera and the journalists involved in the production of the documentary. He has repeatedly stated that the network promotes Turkey's interests, and even claimed that one of the Al Jazeera journalists visited a cabaret in Ayia Napa and left with a woman who worked there. Pittadjis noted that he has a corresponding video, but is not going to publish it "for obvious reasons."
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga Part 18 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga Part 19 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga Part 20 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga Part 21 (link)
- 18 people given preferential citizenships in casino resort, says General Auditor (link)