EU member Cyprus has broken the law with its passport-for-investment programme. This was stated by the head of an independent investigation committee.
According to the investigation report, which began nine months ago and was submitted to the public prosecutor on Monday, 53 percent of the 6,779 “golden passports” were illegally handed over. Careful work was not done and applicants’ ancestors were not adequately screened.
The controversial practice, suspected of fraud and money laundering, was criticized by the European Union and scrapped in November after an investigation by Al Jazeera into the suspected violations. In exchange for an investment of €2.5 million in the island, this golden passport was handed over to thousands of citizens of non-EU countries.
What was revealed by the Qatari channel led to the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a member of the House of Representatives, who announced their innocence. They were filmed helping a Chinese businessman with a criminal history obtain a passport, according to Al Jazeera.
The government had requested an investigation. The investigation was led by former Supreme Court Justice Myron Nicolatos and conducted by a panel set up in September. That was two months before the controversial system was abolished. Thousands of passports were handed over between 2007 and 2020. “The loopholes in the age of the CIP are obvious, which operates within an inadequate legal framework and almost without a regulatory framework,” said Nikolatos. The government has the final say in approving a passport application by a wealthy investor.
Government spokesman Kyriakos Kochos said on Monday evening that the government was determined to punish those responsible. The government also hopes that the end of the investigation will allow an end to “an extended cycle of political tension and a toxic climate, in particular the targeting of the President (Nicos Anastasiades, editor) and his administration.”