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AG’s office appeals court decision to acquit nine suspects in passports case

AG Giorgos Savvides

The attorney-general’s office has appealed the decision to acquit nine suspects in a case relating to the controversial citizenship-by-investment programme who were cleared of all charges by the Larnaca criminal court on November 4, it said on Friday.

“The appeal is directed against the acquittal in a criminal case involving two lawyers, their law firm, three administrative services companies of said law firm and three employees of these firms, and concerns charges of conspiracy to subvert the Republic, forgery and circulation of counterfeits documents, securing registration by false representation and money laundering,” the announcement from the AG’s office said.

Earlier this month, the defendants were acquitted of 36 charges in total in a case concerning the naturalisation of a foreign applicant. The criminal court issued a unanimous decision, which numbered 252 pages.

A total of five people and four entities were accused of being involved in helping an Iranian national and his family get Cypriot citizenship after he allegedly presented forged or tampered documents to support the request to a Larnaca law firm.

The accused were facing charges, inter alia forgery, of circulation of false documents and conspiracy to commit a crime.

The case was first filed with Larnaca district court last May and related to the findings of an investigative committee tasked to investigate Cyprus’ citizenship-by -investment scheme.

“Today’s unanimous ruling of the court puts an end to a prosecution that was indefensible and unjustified from the outset,” a statement released by the acquitted law firm at the time said.

The committee’s report accused the law firm of acting as intermediaries with the intent to secure Cypriot citizenship for an Iranian national and his family, who were also issued court orders against but never located by the authorities.

In August 2020, the Al Jazeera news network aired a report – dubbed The Cyprus Papers – on the island’s citizenship-by-investment programme, based on an investigation of “more than 1,400 leaked documents.”

The network said Cyprus had been granting citizenships to dubious individuals, a claim fiercely rejected by the government, which nevertheless launched a full-scale probe into the programme, going back to 2008.

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