Calls for a freeze on ‘golden passport’ scheme

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Cyprus’ Citizenship for Investment Scheme should be suspended until a consensus is found among the political leadership on whether it has a future, said House Speaker Demetris Syllouris on Monday.

He will send a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades, urging him to convene a meeting with party leaders to discuss the prospects of the Cyprus Citizenship for Investment Scheme.

Syllouris said his aim was to dispel any doubts about the programme and if there are lingering doubts among the political parties “there should be no programme”.

He said suspect foreign investors should have their Cypriot passports taken away.

“In relation to the programme, I suggest that by utilising the new regulations, as passed on 31 July 2020, and the existing legislation the investigation for possible revocation of passports be accelerated where possible,” the letter said.

Syllouris said that if the political decision is not to end it, then the party suggestions for improving the programme will be at the President’s disposal.

In the case of non-termination, Syllouris suggests “there should be a suspension of the programme until it is further improved, based on the concerns and suggestions tabled at the President’s meeting with the party leaders”.

Focus has shifted once again to the ‘golden passports’ scheme as a series of unflattering articles and videos were published by global media outlet Al Jazeera last week which essentially portrayed Cyprus as selling passports to criminals for cash.

The expose was based on the leak of over 1,400 documents related to the investment scheme, obtained by Al Jazeera, which in photos, appear to bear the seal of the Cyprus Parliament.

On Monday, ruling DISY leader Averof Neophytou said he suspects any one of 18 people, including the heads of parliamentary parties and members of the House interior committee as potential suspects of the leak.

Officially, the Cyprus government has refuted Al Jazeera’s claims as propaganda, with Interior Minister Nicos Nouris arguing they only served to damage the island’s economy and reputation through “deception” and “false information”.