‘This is Cyprus’ lawyer fined

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A prominent Famagusta lawyer, implicated in Al Jazeera’s golden passport scandal expose, which ended the citizenship for investment scheme, was fined €4,000 by the Cyprus Bar Association for demeaning the profession.

Andreas Pittadjis was found guilty by the Bar Association disciplinary council on two out of five disciplinary charges following social media posts that constituted professional misconduct.

He was found to have acted unprofessionally in posting personal details of representatives of prospective clients without their consent, further revealing details of alleged crimes without having first reported the case to the authorities.

Pittadjis allegedly revealed personal details of two Al Jazeera ‘undercover journalists’ who had exposed officials who appeared happy to bend the rules for a Chinese investor with a criminal background to acquire a Cyprus passport.

As the Bar Association noted, the fine is not linked to the substance of the alleged corruption depicted in the Al Jazeera but to Pittadjis’ behaviour and comments made on social media.

Pittadjis faces further disciplinary action for the issues raised in the documentary.

Al Jazeera’s investigative reporters had used hidden cameras, snared House Speaker Demetris Syllouris and an AKEL MP and developer Christakis Giovanis pledging “full support” to grant a passport to a fictitious Chinese investor, despite a money laundering conviction against him.

The report also showed lawyer Pittadjis outlining to a man posing as a representative for the Chinese investor different ways to skirt background checks, including a name change or granting citizenship through his wife.

When reporters asked whether such ‘work arounds’ would be possible, Pittadjis told them everything is possible — “This is Cyprus”.

Pittadjis strongly denies the allegations, saying he was fully aware the approach was bogus and that he and Syllouris had only played along to extract more information from the “representative” to file a report to the police.