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President: Saudi allegations a rehash of already discredited claims

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The office of the presidency on Tuesday again denied allegations of improper dealings between President Nicos Anastasiades and a Saudi businessman – one of whose wives secured a Cypriot passport via the citizenship-by-investment scheme.

It was responding to a new report released by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which essentially recapped already publicly disclosed information.

The OCCRP report referred to Saudi businessman Abdulrahman bin Khalid bin Mahfouz, whose jet Anastasiades used twice to fly to the Seychelles.

The Saudi’s second wife was issued a Cypriot passport in August 2015, and just days after Anastasiades flew to the Seychelles aboard the jet – a trip for which Anastasiades has said he paid out of pocket.

The information had come to light during Anastasiades’ sworn testimony before a committee of inquiry looking into the passports scheme – which the government nixed in October 2020 following an expose by the Qatar-based al Jazeera network.

In its statement, the office of the presidency said the OCCRP report simply rehashed matters that have already been dealt with by the committee of inquiry and by a panel chaired by the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The findings of both these committees refute the report, and raise questions as to what purpose the report serves at this time period,” it read.

The statement pointed out that, as the OCCRP itself states, “there exists no evidence linking the president to the Saudi’s transactions.”

Weighing in on the revelations in a new al Jazeera documentary, released only Monday, the office of the presidency said these “merely refer to acts or actions attributed to the gaps, shortcomings or omissions regarding the due diligence within the investment programme, which has been definitively abolished.”

The statement recalled that, following the al Jazeera reveals, the government took action by appointing a committee of inquiry, whose findings have led to revocations of citizenship granted under the passports scheme.

And the attorney-general has meantime launched prosecutions in the matter.

“The Presidency of the Republic assures of its determination to tackle any problems posed by the now-abolished investment programme,” the statement concluded.

 

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