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Police hand over two cases involving ‘golden passports’ to AG

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The police have handed over to the attorney-general two cases involving the now-defunct ‘golden passports’ scheme – one of them relating to the reveals made by the al Jazeera network.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency on Thursday, police spokesman Christos Andreou said the two files are now with the attorney-general, who will decide whether they merit prosecution.

One of these two cases, said Andreou, “relates to the revelations by al Jazeera, they are before the Law Office of the Republic [attorney-general’s office] and we await instructions.”

He added that the police are investigating more than 100 cases relating to the naturalisation of foreign investors; the investigations are into possible criminal offences, he stressed.

Asked how these investigations are proceeding, the police spokesman said many of the cases are at “an advanced stage.”

Andreou demurred when asked about media reports that a second case involving the citizenship-by-investment scheme will be filed in court this month.

To date, one such case has been filed in court, in May 2021. It relates to the findings of an hoc investigative committee – headed by former chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Demetra Kalogirou.

That committee’s remit was limited to looking at naturalisations deemed ‘high risk’ – it was separate to the committee of inquiry which subsequently combed through the passports scheme from its inception in 2007 through August 2020.

Andreou noted that a special team within the police is dealing with investigations into the citizenship-by-investment programme.

A review of the progress in these investigations was done last week at a meeting between attorney-general Giorgos Savvides and the police chief. Reportedly, Savvides gave the police timetables for completing their work.

The European Commission launched infringement proceedings against Cyprus over its passports scheme initially in October 2020. But in November of the same year Cyprus axed its controversial scheme after an undercover Al Jazeera video showed former House president Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis offering help to a pretend Chinese businessman with a criminal record to secure citizenship.

Despite terminating the citizenships scheme, authorities in Cyprus continued processing some 1,400 applications filed before the programme was nixed.

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