Golden passport stain thickens

1 min read

The case of a Vietnamese who allegedly acquired a Cypriot golden passport while in custody in his home country has authorities in a tangle.

Cyprus legal services are investigating allegations that a Vietnamese investor was granted citizenship while under arrest in his home country.

However, the Interior Ministry denies claims the investor was issued a passport while confirming that his wife and children had been granted Cypriot citizenship, which will be revoked.

According to a Phileleftheros daily, a Vietnamese investor had applied for Cypriot citizenship while he was on the run.

The investor’s application was examined while he had been remanded in custody.

He was called to Cyprus to appear for his application, but he could not fly to the island.

Nevertheless, according to the report, the application went through while he was in custody in Vietnam.

On Wednesday, Attorney General George Savvides said: “Any case that comes before us is studied with due diligence, and our decision is forwarded to the competent authorities”.

Cyprus Interior Ministry has refuted claims that the Vietnamese investor was granted a Cypriot passport.

It did, however, acknowledge that his wife and children had been handed passports through the citizenship for investment program.

It said the cabinet had decided that Cyprus would strip the investor’s family of their Cypriot passports on 8 October 2021.

The ministry failed to explain how his wife and children had obtained citizenship and why were they to be stripped of their passports.

Reportedly, the Vietnamese case is one of four the Cyprus police have forwarded to the legal services requesting further instructions.

High risk

The case was among 100 investors deemed to be of “high risk” by a four-member investigating committee led by former president of the Supreme Court Myron Nicolatos.

Al Jazeera in August 2020 highlighted a case involving a Vietnamese investor involved in a multi-million bribe case in Vietnam.

The investor obtained a Cypriot passport for himself and his children while in custody.

He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison.

Al Jazeera’s investigating team came across the case while looking into Cyprus’ dodgy citizenship for investment scheme.

Al Jazeera’s expose led the Cypriot government to scrap the passport scheme in November 2020.

Al Jazeera reporters posed as fixers for a Chinese businessman seeking a Cypriot passport despite having a criminal record.

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 €8 bln during its lifespan.