As the latest controversy over Cyprus’ ‘golden passports’ scheme fails to subside, Interior minister Nicos Nouris is expected to provide specific details on Wednesday on a number of passports issued.
However, Nouris will only provide details on the process that was in place at the time and won’t refer to specific cases cited in the recent reports by Al Jazeera, according to insiders.
Meanwhile, the released series of articles and videos on the island’s citizenship-by-investment programme have prompted a police investigation on the very sensitive leaked documents on which Al Jazeera built its exposé.
After an investigation of more than 1,400 leaked documents, the Qata-based media outlet revealed that more than 1,000 Russians obtained a Cypriot passport through the scheme between late 2017 and late 2019.
The documents obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit showed that almost half of the applications came from Russia, showing how the country’s political and business elite, billionaires and criminals have been buying their place in the EU.
The Cypriot passport has granted them the ability to travel, work and bank in the whole of the EU.
Most of what the $2.5m applicants need to invest to qualify for citizenship is put into real estate.
Many Russians who applied for Cypriot citizenship made their money through political and economic relationships with their own government, with several having held official state positions making them PEPs – politically exposed people, the expose also said.
Under new rules introduced last year, PEPs are now banned from buying passports but those who already bought them may keep them.
Among those that acquired passports are former Deputy Minister Igor Reva and former member of the Russian parliament Vadim Moshkovich.
The list also includes the former boss of a subsidiary of the state-owned railways, Vitaly Evdokimenko, and Vladimir Khristenko, who comes from a highly politically connected family, with his stepmother serving as the current deputy prime minister of Russia.
The reason these politically connected people look towards Cyprus, and by extension, the EU, is because they fear their possessions might be at risk in their home country.