Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga. Part 26

Хроники кипрской саги о паспортах. Часть 26
26 May 2021 Liza Medvetskaya
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The final stage of the interrogation of persons who may have anything to do with the Citizenship by Investment scandal took place on Tuesday, May 25.

The Investigative Committee, headed by Myron Nikolatos, took a statement from the head of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) Michalis Michael's and lawyer Dimitris Dimitriou.

During the interrogation, Michael said that "the wrong methods of promoting the investment program have created many problems, which ultimately tarnished the country's image."

Many companies have promoted the program through unfair schemes. We have repeatedly warned about the need for a more thorough diligence of investors, in addition to providing a certificate that they have no criminal record. In addition, we proposed introducing monitoring of investors after their naturalization, - he said.

The head of CIPA also repeated several times that he has nothing to do with the consideration of applications under the Cyprus investment program. Michael emphasized that, as the head of CIPA and a partner of KPMG, he never had a conflict of interest with anyone, since he did not make any decisions regarding KEP either in CIPA or KPMG.

In addition, he pointed out that CIPA, in fact, did not have any decision-making authority in the context of the Cyprus investment program. CIPA has never held conferences abroad or in Cyprus to promote KEP.

When asked about the benefits of the Citizenship by Investment program, he noted that "in 2013, during the financial crisis, it supported the economy, created jobs and reduced the number of problem loans in the country." He added that the benefits of the program were obvious and if he could influence the course of events, the program would not have closed, but existed today.

When asked why no investment in shipping was made through KEP, he replied that "unfortunately, investors preferred more tangible investments, so they chose the real estate sector."

At the conclusion of the interrogation, the head of CIPA was asked about the 12th Global Conference on Real Estate and Citizenship, which was held in Dubai. Michael stated that he attended the event at the invitation of Invest Cyprus as a speaker, where he spoke about the advantages of Cyprus as a place for investment.

During my speech, I did not mention the Cyprus investment program at all. I had no reason to focus on this topic, since other speakers promoted the Cypriot scheme, - he summed up.

Finally, he noted that the conference was attended by the head of DISY Averof Neophytou, businessman Melis Siacolas and a representative from Henley's Cyprus office.

Dimitris Dimitriou admitted that the law firm Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE, which he represents, has helped a total of 303 foreign investors obtain Cypriot citizenship from 2014 to 2020.

Partner of the law firm Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE and the brother of Marios Dimitriadis, who served as Minister of Transport from March 14, 2014 to February 28, 2018, denied that his relative was involved in facilitating the issuance of Golden passports.

Let's get straight to the point. Marios Dimitriadis is not a lawyer or shareholder in Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE. Moreover, we have never cooperated with him on my professional activities. I want to explain everything once and for all. Neither Marios Dimitriadis, nor any other politician has ever provided assistance to our bureau in matters of naturalization of foreign citizens, - said Dimitriou.

It is worth noting that during the time when Marios Dimitriadis served as Minister of Transport, 71 applications for the naturalization of foreign citizens were approved.

Answering the questions of the Investigative Commission, Dimitriou said that on average, €15-18 thousand were charged from clients for the services provided, plus €2 thousand for each child.

He noted that even after the closure of KEP, clients who want to receive permanent residence in Cyprus apply to the office. In particular, now Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE provides such services to several Chinese citizens who have expressed a desire to invest in Cyprus property in order to be able to obtain a permanent residence permit in the country.

78% of the investor applications we have previously submitted came from either mainland China or Hong Kong. Of these, 95% wanted to invest their money in real estate in Cyprus, - said Dimitriou.

It must be said that the lawyer denied that Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE has promoted or collaborated with a specific developer. Dimitriou also said that 6 letters with refusals to grant citizenship to foreign citizens were received over the past 6 months, while only 7 applications were rejected since 2014.

He explained that the reasoning behind the refusal had nothing to do with the fact that the investors did not meet the criteria. Five decided to appeal against the refusal of the Republic of Cyprus, but Andrea Dimitriadis & Co no longer represented their interests.

Dimitriou also noted that after the closure of the Citizenship by Investment program, 77 applications submitted for consideration through his bureau were stuck. Dimitriou also said that he has been registered in the Register of Service Providers since its creation in 2018.

Хроники кипрской саги о паспортах. Часть 26

During the interrogation, the lawyer was asked about how the law firm carried out the due diligence on investors.

In particular, they talked about the specific case of naturalization of a Cambodian citizen Sopheap Choi Jung and her family, to which Dimitriou replied that the data was recorded from the words of the client.

When asked if the investor's signature was certified by the registrar without his personal presence, the lawyer said that this issue was being investigated, and the report would soon be submitted to the competent authority.

Dimitriou then said that since 2018, when the application process changed, the bureau's staff began to fill out questionnaires and documents for the profile and risk assessment of investor clients in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

Finally, the lawyer was asked whether the Pancyprian Bar Association had carried out an inspection of the investors assisted by the bureau. Dimitriou replied that Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE has passed at least 4 checks, the last of which was regarding naturalization cases.

He added that no fines were imposed on the bureau, but some remarks were made that he was not aware of at the time. The last check was exhaustive, with 3 people examining all files for 4 days. However, the audit results of Andrea Dimitriadis & Co. DEPE are not yet known.

Хроники кипрской саги о паспортах. Часть 26

Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga:

Source: stockwatch.com.cy
Photos: pixabay.com, stockwatch.com.cy
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