Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides has dismissed criticism by opposition parties that relatives and allies of Cambodia’s leader acquired Cypriot passports under a secretive investment for citizenship scheme.
The controversial report by Reuters made Cyprus the object of international ridicule, the opposition also said.
However, Petrides last night told Phileleftheros that there was nothing secretive about passports which are granted to foreign applicants after all due diligence checks are carried out.
“All applications that go before the Council of Ministers are approved simply because the checks and balances have been carried out by the Ministry, this is where rejections are being made,” he said.
“Requests of those who have not passed the procedural checks do not go to Ministerial level,” he added.
The Ministry yesterday also sent a written statement in response to Wednesday’s Reuters report which said that family members and allies of Cambodia’s long-time Prime Minister, Hun Sen, have overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars.
And that they have used their wealth to buy foreign citizenship – a practice Hun Sen has decried as unpatriotic.
The Ministry noted that the Mediterranean island’s citizenship programme was absolutely credible and transparent. And that checks and balances in the system had been tightened in recent years, specifically in 2018 and in April 2019.
Eight family members or allies sought and received Cypriot citizenship in 2016 and 2017, according to Reuters.
Since the inception of the citizenship scheme in 2013, and until 2018, the Cypriot government had approved 1,864 applications.
By George Pyrishis