On Tuesday, June 22, the office of the Attorney-General of Cyprus finally released the final report of the c, which, under the leadership of Myron Nikolatos, was investigating cases of Golden passports.
It is worth noting that the 780-page dossier has been significantly revised. For security reasons, the names and some personal data of investors were removed from it.
Disclosing certain names and details could jeopardize the investigation and potentially lead to falsification of evidence, preventing the court from administering justice, given that punishment is at stake, the Attorney-General of Cyprus said.
According to the published data:
- 597 naturalizations of investors and their families were considered high risk
- 81 foreign investors received a passport as a manager (outside the legal framework and thus illegally)
- 53 cases: the Committee recommended that the government consider the possibility of depriving foreign investors of Cypriot citizenship on the basis of article 113 of the Civil Registry Law
- 3 cases: the Committee recommended to deprive investors of citizenship due to non-compliance with the terms and conditions of their naturalization
- 29 cases: the Committee recommended to deprive investors of citizenship to consider depriving them of their citizenship in order to protect the interests of the Republic of Cyprus or society
- 16 cases: the Committee recommended monitoring and further investigation of their cases.
In addition, the report indicates that since the launch of the Citizenship by Investment program, 6779 people have received Cypriot passports:
- 5 naturalizations: during the presidency of Tassos Papadopoulos (1.01.2007-229.02.2008),
- 228 naturalizations: during the presidency of Demetris Christofias (1.03.2008 - 28.02.2013),
- 6546 naturalizations: during the reign of the current President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades (01.03.2013 - 17.08.2020).
It is noteworthy that 53.24% of them (family members of investors, as well as managers) received passports with numerous violations of the program conditions.
As indicated in the report, to a large extent, the issuance of Golden passports was carried out in excess or in violation of the relevant legislation, since the President of Cyprus presided over the meetings of the Council of Ministers, which in turn approved the naturalization of foreign investors and businessmen in violation of the provisions of the Law.
Consistent negligence on the part of government that managed the Cyprus investment program at different times, and refusal to proceed with the implementation of Council of Ministers Decision 65.824 of 11.07.2007, on the basis of which “the above criteria / conditions will be valid until the final formulation of the relevant amendment or draft regulation” , who made the greatest and decisive contribution to the creation of a number of illegal naturalizations and / or a series of arbitrary or other illegal actions, became the reason for the closure of the program.
In other words, from July 11, 2007 to August 2020, the Citizenship by Investment program operated without a proper legal basis and without a regulatory framework, despite the clear provision in the above-mentioned decision on the adoption of the Regulation.
According to members of the Inquiry Committee, the office of the Auditor-General did not properly control the program. In 2016, an audit of the work of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Cyprus was carried out. However, the audit report did not include any comments or recommendations for improving the investment program.
During a speech to members of the Committee, ex-Interior Minister Sokratis Hasikos said that since 2016, when the ministry was inspected, and until his departure from his post, the Auditor-General had not presented him a single report on the issue of granting citizenship. Golden passports came under the scrutiny of Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides only in August 2020 after the release of an exposing report by Al Jazeera.
The report of the Committee of Inquiry also mentions the Cyprus Unit for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (MOKAS). Its staff could screen applicants whose origin of funds raised questions. MOKAS should have carried out more checks on foreign investors' bank accounts, the movement of funds in these accounts and their possible connection to illegal activities.
There is one more chapter of the report, which includes information on possible violations within the framework of the investment program, received by members of the Committee from audit companies, law firms and individuals.
As you may know, the investigation of Golden passports began in September last year after a series of videos appeared in the media stating that Cyprus grants citizenship to dubious persons.
Despite the launch of an investigation, the government has so far vigorously defended the program, claiming it benefits the economy. However, after Al Jazeera posted a secret video in which former House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris and Akel MP Christakis Giovanis offer to help a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record secure citizenship, the scandal has reignited.
The video was a follow-up to an earlier Al Jazeera video that listed a number of dubious individuals who were granted citizenship. Syllouris and Giovanis resigned and Cyprus closed the Citizenship by Investment program.
A lengthy investigation has shed light on a host of violations. All perpetrators are expected to be punished in the near future. Recently, the Central Police Department of the Republic of Cyprus appointed 10 officers to investigate the issuance of Golden passports that raised the Committee's suspicions.
There is no doubt that soon all those responsible for the scandalous case will be punished.
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga. Part 27 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga. Part 26 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga. Part 25 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga. Part 24 (link)
- Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga. Part 23 (link)
Photos: philenews.com, stockwatch.com.cy