The Cyprus Prosecutor General asked the police to investigate possible criminal offenses using the cash-for-passport scheme after an official investigation showed that thousands of passports could have been mistakenly issued to wealthy foreigners.
Between 2007 and 2020, 6779 people received citizenship on an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, the vast majority of whom are Russians, according to a now discredited scheme.
An independent commission of inquiry, led by the former president of the court, noted in an interim report last month that 51% of passports went to people who were not required to qualify. read more
The entire interim report was passed on to the police, according to a statement from the Island’s Legal Service on Friday.
“Instructions have been given to initiate an investigation to determine any possible criminal offenses based on an interim report where appropriate.”
The voluminous report found that the island’s Cabinet of Ministers had authenticated citizenship requests, despite potential conflicts of interest on the part of some members due to family or professional ties with the applicants’ proxies. He also recommended revoking citizenship in 66 cases.
Cyprus abandoned the scheme late last year after it was revealed that not only bona fide investors benefited from it, but also fugitives or politically connected persons from poor countries with pockets deep enough to shell out at least € 2 million ($ 2.41 million) for citizenship. …
The European Commission last year launched a procedure to infringe on Cyprus’ rights under this scheme, arguing that granting EU citizenship for predetermined payments without any real connection with the state undermines the integrity of EU citizenship.
Cyprus backed out of the scheme after Al Jazeera’s network secretly filmed the then Speaker of Parliament allegedly promising to facilitate the issuance of a passport to a fictitious investor with a criminal record. Speaker Demetris Silloris, who has since resigned, vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying any comments were taken out of context. read more
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