Former MPs face prosecution over passport scandal

1 min read

Police are requesting the prosecution of former House Speaker Demetris Syllouris and ex-AKEL MP Christakis Giovani implicated in the golden passport scandal, which ended the citizenship for investment scheme.

Police have completed an investigation into the two former senior MPs and their involvement in offering Cyprus passports to criminals.

The case file has been handed to the attorney-general, who will decide whether there is enough evidence to take the case to court.

According to daily Phileleftheros, the police has recommended that the duo be prosecuted for corruption.

Police launched a probe in October last year following an Al Jazeera documentary, exposing the two as middlemen for dodgy foreign investors eyeing a Cypriot passport to gain access to the EU.

Al Jazeera’s expose showed reporters posing as fixers for a Chinese businessman seeking a Cypriot passport despite having a criminal record.

Parliament speaker Syllouris and the opposition MP were secretly filmed allegedly trying to facilitate a passport for the fugitive investor.

Prominent Famagusta lawyer Andreas Pittadjis also featured in the video, and others linked to Giovani’s property development company.

Both Syllouris and Giovanis later resigned, although both insisted they were innocent of any wrongdoing, claiming the video had been illegally recorded.

Until that time, the government had fiercely defended the citizenship scheme but was forced to scrap it, as the EU launched legal proceedings over claims it had been selling passports to dubious individuals.

A public inquiry found the government broke the law countless times to grant citizenship to over 6,700 people from 2007 to 2020.

The damning report said that over half (53%) of the 6,779 passports granted were done so illegally, encouraged by a due diligence vacuum or insufficient background checks.

Cyprus’ passport scheme generated over €7 bln during its lifespan from 2007.