The President of Cyprus Decided to Intervene in the Golden Passports Scandal

В скандал с "золотыми паспортами" решил вмешаться президент Кипра
2 September 2020 Liza Medvetskaya

On Wednesday, September 2, Cypriot President Niсos Anastasiades expressed regret over the events related to the recent scandal over the publication of an investigation by the Qatari newspaper Al Jazeera, in which the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment program was the main figure involved.

Anastasiades said that he intends, during the meeting of the Council of Ministers, which will be held on Thursday, September 3, to ask the Attorney General of Cyprus to appoint a three-person investigative committee to thoroughly study the work of the investment program from 2007 to July 31, 2020. In other words, to investigate who issued passports at a time when parliament approved a new, stricter legal framework.

At the same time, the President noted that this decision will in no way affect the powers conferred on the Attorney General by the Constitution to check the tax department for proper tax administration.

In turn, the auditor general of Cyprus Odysseas Michaelides said that he intends to conduct his own investigation to determine whether the state has lost income in the form of taxes or fees.

However, his initiative was thwarted by the Ministry of the Interior, which refused to provide confidential information without an appropriate legal opinion.

The auditor surprisingly calmly reacted to the refusal, noting that he respects the government's authority to request a legal opinion, even though he considers it obvious his right to check the state's revenues from the program being implemented.

However, Michaelides warned that if the government's refusal is based on a legal opinion from the attorney general, the case will go to the Supreme Court, which will have the final say.

The Cyprus Auditor General highlighted the seriousness of the issue, adding that a preliminary examination of the five files already in his possession raised serious concerns about the potential loss of government revenues.

Meanwhile, the Cypriot police have also launched their own investigation, trying to find the source who leaked confidential documents to Al Jazeera.

A version is currently being worked out according to which the documents were transferred to the TV company by one of the members of parliament. At the same time, the legislature still refuses to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, referring to possible constitutional problems.

So, on Tuesday, September 1, the head of the House of Representatives of Cyprus Socrates Socratous refused to provide the police with lists of 115 citizens who had previously received passports under the Citizenship by Investment program, even despite the order presented by the Attorney General with his personal signature.

If you do not provide these documents without a good reason, then you are committing an offense punishable by imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of € 2,562, or both, the order said.

However, this did not in any way affect Socratous, so all the originals of files and documents, correspondence and attachments sent by the Ministry of the Interior, as well as the originals of delivery receipts, remained within the walls of parliament.

В скандал с

In turn, on Wednesday, during a meeting of leaders and party representatives, parliament decided to seek the opinion of three legal experts on the demand that the police had previously made to them.

After that, the main opposition parliamentary representative of Akel, Giorgos Loukides, said that the police ultimatum was unanimously rejected.

'The leaders' meeting unanimously concluded that the police ultimatum was institutionally and legally unacceptable. To strengthen the parliament's position on this issue, we decided to turn to external legal advisers,' said Loucaides.

Loucaides added that his party also considers the move politically unacceptable, as it was an attempt by the government to divert attention from the essence of the matter - serious mistakes made by the government in relation to the investment program.

He was backed by Edek MP Kostis Efstathiou, who went even further by denouncing the ruling DISY leader Averof Neophytou for suggesting that the leak could only have been the work of about 18 people - party leaders and MPs who are members of the House of Representatives' internal affairs committee.

This was a completely inappropriate statement, and that raises questions, since it is unacceptable for a deputy to point the finger at his own colleagues, '' summed up Efstathiou.
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