Demetra Kalogirou, head of the task force reviewing high-risk cases of ‘golden passports‘ that were issued to convicted investors, is seeking legal advice to see if their Cypriot citizenship can be revoked.
The task force was set up last year after the government agreed to revoke the citizenship of 26 investors from countries including Russia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Iran following accusations of wrongdoing.
Kalogirou, the chairperson of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, told the CyBC radio Tuesday that the three-person task force has reviewed the 30 cases it received ever since it was appointed in December 2019.
“There are some cases where the applications included misleading information while in some cases facts were concealed by the applicant (acting on behalf of the beneficiary).
“We have sought a legal opinion to find if stricter and transparent rules (introduced in August 2019) can have retrospective effect,” Kalogirou told CyBC Radio.
Kalogirou said that her task force has been checking against all available databases, locally and internationally, including the police, Interpol, Cyprus’ financial crimes unit Mokas and the Foreign Ministry.
She admitted there were some shortfalls in the legislation for transparency and good conduct reports which were not spotted because of differences in spelling, or because they were not applicable to the anti-money laundering regulations that apply in Cyprus.
Kalogirou’s comments follow an expose published by global media outlet Al Jazeera with incriminating evidence that Cyprus issued passports to investors with a criminal record during the years 2017-2019.
Qatar’s Al Jazeera initial report claimed that 12 dubious investors – including four Russians, two people each from Ukraine, China and Iran, and one from Venezuela and Vietnam – secured Cypriot passports after paying at least €2 million in investments despite being under investigation for corruption and fraud
Al Jazeera is to continue daily reports based on a selection of 1,400 leaked Cyprus government documents on the Cypriot Citizenship for Investment which it claims proves that passports were “sold to dozens of foreigners linked to crime and corruption”.
The outlet will publish more ‘Cyprus Papers‘ during the week.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris dismissed the allegations as part of a smear campaign, implying that Turkey was involved in an attempt to discredit Cyprus due to its close ties with the Qatari regime.
“We should ask why an organisation like Al Jazeera, which we all know to which country it belongs and we know where this country stands politically, chooses this moment in time to try to deal a blow to the Cyprus Republic.”