News Local Cyprus promises reform to fight graft after passport uproar

Cyprus promises reform to fight graft after passport uproar

The president of Cyprus said authorities on Friday will unveil deep reforms to fight corruption, months after scrapping a citizenship for investment programme that was marked by allegations of graft.

Thousands of rich non-Europeans benefited from a revamped scheme from 2013 offering a passport and visa-free travel throughout the European Union in return for a minimum 2 million euro investment. The country was rattled by the graft allegations and the programme was suspended in November after disclosures of lax oversight.

“Measures which we will announce tomorrow represent the biggest intervention yet to create the strongest possible net against corruption,” President Nicos Anastasiades said in a televised statement on Thursday evening. He is due to testify on Feb. 2 in a public inquiry into the passport scheme.

A former speaker of the island’s parliament resigned in October after the Al Jazeera network secretly filmed him offering to assist a person with a criminal record obtain a passport. Those filmed said their comments were taken out of context.

Anastasiades, who came to power in 2013, said perceptions of widespread corruption were overblown, and politically motivated. He said his administration was aware of shortcomings in the passport scheme, which led to rules being tightened several times.

People will believe falsehoods repeated often enough, he said.

“Some, with no shame, allege the investment scheme was adopted because of the law office which bears my name, or members of my family,” he said of a law practice that has handled citizenship applications and that his daughters run with partners.

The Nicos Chr. Anastasiades and Partners firm is one of dozens of legal practices that offered services to individuals seeking passports.

Several news outlets, including Reuters, have carried reports of the scheme where foreign investors with deep pockets, and some with questionable backgrounds, leapfrogged over normally complex citizenship processes. (Reuters)

Top Stories

King Carnival goes around in the roads of Limassol (VIDEO)

King Carnival will today go around in the main streets of Limassol from 16:00 until 18:00. (philenews)

77-year-old missing from Limassol (PHOTO)

Police are looking for 77-year old Nikos Georgiou, who has been reported missing from his place of residence in Agios Athanasios refugee housing in...

Capacity at Athalassa Hospital exceeds 120%

The situation at the Athalassa Hospital is very difficult since at present capacity has exceeded 120%. In a statement the Administrative Council of the Mental...

Vaccinations “the main economic tool” in managing Covid crisis, says Minister of Finance

Vaccinations have turned into the “main economic tool” for the management of the coronavirus crisis and the prospects for the recovery, Minister of Finance...

Ongoing delays for Animals Police

Ongoing delays have been taking place regarding the modification of the Law on Police aiming at the establishment of a special group of Police...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...