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Syllouris passport probe goes to AG

Former House president Demetris Syllouris

Police have completed an investigation into former House president Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis who had been implicated in a scandal last year relating to the island’s controversial citizenship by investment programme.

The file has been handed to the attorney-general who will decide whether there was enough evidence to take the case to court.

Daily Phileleftheros reported that police were recommending the prosecution of those involved.

The probe had been launched in October last year after Al Jazeera aired an undercover video of them offering help to a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record to secure citizenship.

Prominent Famagusta lawyer Andreas Pittadjis also featured in the video, as well as others linked to Giovanis’ development company.

Syllouris and Giovanis have denied wrongdoing, claiming that the video had been illegally recorded.

They were both forced to resign however, under the pressure of the public outcry prompted by the broadcast.

The government, which until that time had fiercely defended the citizenship scheme, was forced to scrap it, as the EU launched legal proceedings over claims it had been selling passports to dubious individuals.

Before the video, using leaked documents, Al Jazeera had run another report suggesting Cyprus had been granting citizenships to suspicious individuals.

The broadcaster’s report followed other damning reports by local and international media.

An inquiry into the citizenship scheme found that 53 per cent of the 6,779 citizenships granted overall were unlawful, and said politicians and institutions had political responsibilities while certain applicants and service providers may be held criminally culpable. The probe covered the period between 2007, when the scheme was introduced, and August 2020.

 

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