Sunday 6/20/21
'GOLDEN PASSPORTS'

Report finds that Cyprus gave out thousands of passports illegally

In all, 3,609 people illegally received Cypriot citizenship.
A view of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Photo: Pixabay.
A view of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Photo: Pixabay.

Cyprus illegally granted citizenship to thousands of non-EU residents between 2007 and the end of 2020, according to the head of a special investigative committee on Monday.

The report is now going to prosecutors, who will have to decide how to proceed. According to the allegations, the scandal caught up politicians, attorneys, civil servants and clerics.

In all, 3,609 people illegally received Cypriot citizenship.

"That's about 53 per cent of the 6,779 cases that we checked," said the head of the investigating committee, Myron Nikolatos.

The investigations lasted about nine months and were required by the European Union.

2.5 million euros

To get their hands on the passports, interested parties had to be prepared to pay at least 2.5 million euros (3.04 million dollars), for which the individual would get a passport that allowed free travel through the entire EU.

The scheme brought in 9.7 billion euros, said Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades, money that the country needed, especially as it got caught up in the EU financial crisis in 2013.

Cyprus is allowed to award citizenship as it wishes. But the measures that were taken to rope in people willing and able to pay allegedly crossed the line.

Al Jazeera

The president of the legislature stepped down after an Al Jazeera report last year that used hidden cameras to depict the tactics used to elicit interest.

The lawmaker who stepped down can be seen on camera promising "to manage" a person's case.

The EU has been trying to crack down on such practices for years. Malta has also come in for criticism.

The EU is worried that the sales can result in money laundering, tax avoidance and corruption and can weaken national security.

The practice was ended in Cyprus in November.

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