A report in Al Jazeera which published the first findings of its investigation into 1,400 leaked approved applications for a Cyprus ‘golden passport’ between 2017-2019 has raised a political storm, Philenews reports.
Sunday’s report had also noted that “serious questions are raised about the Cyprus Investment Programme,” and Opposition left-wing Akel promptly called on the government to respond and explain.
However, right-wing ruling Disy called on Akel not to be so fast in gloating over a report which is biased since it mentions nothing about the programme’s new strict regulations that have already been put in place.
“The report damages Cyprus, not the government, and this is something Akel has to understand,” Disy said in a written statement.
In its first of a series of stories on ‘The Cyprus Papers’, the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit lists some of the names of individuals that appear to have been suspected or wanted for crimes at the time they received their Cyprus citizenship.
Reached for comment by Al Jazeera, Cyprus’ Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said that “No citizenship was granted in violation of the regulations in force at the given time”.
His full statement said: “Regarding today’s reports in international media which suggest that the Republic of Cyprus proceeded to the naturalization of persons who did not meet the criteria of the Cyprus Investment Program, we wish to clarify that all the individuals mentioned, especially in the Al Jazeera report, were evaluated according to the criteria that were in force at the given time and which they met.
“In addition, the consent of all relevant services both in Cyprus and internationally had been secured with regards to these individuals.
“It is well known that the Republic of Cyprus has made successive changes to improve the Cyprus Investment Program, following the recent vote, of Regulations by the House of Representatives.
“The most important change is that the regulations ensure transparency, credibility and continuous control, both before submitting an application and after obtaining a Cyprus passport.
“Within this framework and the additional possibilities provided by the Regulations, we are already checking and will continue to check all the information that has been made public.”