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AG’s review of police Al Jazeera file in final phase

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An “important development” has been made in the investigation centered on the Al Jazeera expose, which implicated top Cypriot politicians in corruption within the controversial citizenship by investment programme.

The legal service’s review of the police case, which was handed over to the office after its own investigation into the “Cyprus Papers”, is in its final phase.

Daily Phileleftheros reported on Wednesday that investigators from the legal services went to London and obtained the video from the Al Jazeera office, so that should the case go to court the video can be used as evidence.

The investigators went to London on January 18 and received the video, which reportedly does not differ from what was publicly released and was not doctored, although only excerpts were shown.

It is not immediately clear why it took over two years for this process to be completed. Police previously defended their actions after an outcry that it took them more than two weeks to search the homes of state officials who appeared in the video.

The attorney general is soon expected to announce how the case will proceed.

The almost hour-long expose was released in full on October 12, 2020 and led to the resignations of former House president Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis.

In it, undercover reporters played the role of agents on behalf of a pretend Chinese businessman with a criminal record to secure citizenship. Syllouris, Giovanis, and others were shown in the video offering to help the man get citizenship despite the criminal record.

After the video was released, Syllouris claimed that he had been playing along with the undercover reporters to gather more information on the fictitious Chinese businessman so that the case could be reported to the authorities.

The programme, which ran from 2007 – but was ramped up in 2013 – to November 2020, was estimated to have generated about €8bn.

A committee of inquiry here in Cyprus 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 and August 2020.

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