NewsLocalFour individuals involved in passport scandal to face trial in criminal court

Four individuals involved in passport scandal to face trial in criminal court

A court ordered a former senior state official and three others to stand trial for suspected corruption in connection with the controversial Citizenship by Investment scheme, which was abandoned in 2020.

Four people, including former Parliamentary Speaker Demetris Syllouris, a former MP, a property executive and a lawyer, will appear before a criminal court on October 26, a district court in Nicosia ruled on Monday.

They have all denied any wrongdoing.

Just over 7,000 people received citizenship from 2007 to 2020 under the programme, popular particularly with Russian and Chinese investors.

Before the scheme was shut down a Cyprus passport could be obtained by an investor, and by extension members of their families, for a minimum investment of 2 million euros.

All four suspects were featured in a documentary filmed by the Al Jazeera network aired in 2020, where undercover journalists posed as fixers to get a passport for a fictitious Asian investor with a criminal record.

Syllouris, who as speaker was second in the state hierarchy, resigned after the documentary came out. An lawmaker from opposition AKEL also stepped down.

The individuals, who were not obliged to enter a plea at Monday’s hearing, have said any remarks they made in the film were taken out of context.

Some of the charges they will face are related to the Al Jazeera report, while others related to individuals who received passports, state prosecutors announced on July 14.

Last month, the Auditor-General urged authorities to investigate indications that many of the investments recorded under the scheme may have been fictitious.

Read more:

Ex parliamentary speaker, three others, enter plea on Monday in controversial passport scheme

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