Cyprus Opens 1st Criminal Case Into 'Golden Passports' - Law Office

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 15th May, 2021) The Larnaca District Court launched the first criminal case into disparities of the now-suspended Cyprus Investment Program, which granted citizenship for investments, also known as the golden passports scheme, the Cypriot Law Office said on Saturday.

"The Larnaca District Court has registered the first criminal case concerning the exclusive naturalization of foreign investors and businessmen, based on the conclusion of the Report prepared by the Kalogirou Special Committee. Nine people (five individuals and four legal entities) will be prosecuted on 37 charges," a statement read.

On April 28, a special committee, led by Dimitra Kalogirou, published an interim report whose purpose was to study questionable cases of naturalization of foreign investors and entrepreneurs through the Cyprus Investment Program from July 11, 2007 to August 17, 2020.

The Kalogirou Committee found that the Cypriot government illegally granted citizenship to almost3,500 relatives of investors and managers of large companies over the 13 years of the scheme's existence. The committee also considered it a violation to issue Cypriot passports to persons naturalized as managers of companies that have invested in Cyprus, since they themselves are neither investors nor entrepreneurs.

Additionally, the police, at the direction of the Attorney General, is considering other cases arising from the Kalogirou Committee's conclusion, some of which are at an advanced stage and are expected to be referred to the Law Office.

"Given the seriousness of the current criminal cases and criminal investigations, the Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General reiterate the need to avoid disclosing confidential details of cases in order to protect all investigations and procedures, ensure the rights of potential defendants (including the presumption of innocence) and comply with personal protection laws," the report read.

Cyprus canceled the program last November, having garnered from it about 8 billion Euros ($9.7 billion) in investments. The Cypriot authorities had issued around 4,000 "golden passports" to people investing at least $2.5 million into the country's economy.

The United States and the European Union used to criticize Cyprus for selling passports. A documentary released by Al-Jazeera in October exposed Cyprus as one of the biggest money laundering countries, which purportedly came as a byproduct of the citizenship-for-investments program.

According to local experts, Al-Jazeera brought down the entire political system of Cyprus and eventually led it to a collapse. Among the politicians making a cameo in the investigative documentary were former Speaker of Parliament Demetris Syllouris, who promised an "investor" with a criminal past full support "at any level," and MP Christakis Dziovannis, who is one of the country's largest developers. Both of them resigned after the scandal.