Cyprus Mail

Audit service hands over to police results of citizenship probe

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides
The audit service said on Monday it has put at the disposal of the police all the material it had gathered while probing certain cases linked to the citizenship by investment programme.
Police were instructed by the attorney-general last week to launch investigations into the controversial programme after an independent panel found that almost 52 per cent of the citizenships had been granted unlawfully.
The findings mirror the findings of an audit service probe carried out last year into a number of citizenships granted to company executives and their dependents
The audit service said that auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has informed the chief of police “that it was the duty of the service to put at the disposal of the police the reports and hefty supporting material to help the investigators”.
In its report, the audit service said they got the impression that “some of the people exercising public authority completely ignored the existing legal and regulatory framework and essentially thought they could act at will.”
The auditor-general launched the probe after the permanent secretary of the interior ministry told parliament in October that 18 of 23 citizenships that were expedited on the minister’s instructions concerned company executives connected to the casino resort.
The government decided to terminate the programme after Al Jazeera aired an undercover video showing former House president Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis offering assistance, in return for cash, to a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record to secure citizenship. Both have since resigned while the EU has launched legal proceedings against Cyprus.
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