The Limassol bishopric said Wednesday it knew nothing of the illegal activities of a man it had tried to help secure a Cypriot passport through the citizenship by investment programme.
In a written statement, the bishopric said the man is over 85, an Orthodox Christian with rich charitable work who helped the patriarchies of Jerusalem and Antioch in the past. He had also funded the construction of two churches in Limassol before Bishop Athanasios was elected.
“The Holy Diocese of Limassol was never made aware of any illegal activity on behalf of the applicant” nor did Athanasios have any business transactions with him.
The statement said the reference letter to the interior ministry was sent after taking into account his charity work and assuming he met all the criteria.
“The Limassol bishop did not engage in any action to bypass any legal condition or procedure,” the statement said.
The issue emerged after former interior minister Constantinos Petrides testified in an inquiry that Athanasios had mediated on behalf of an individual who was a casino owner in the north and was also implicated in cigarette smuggling.