Nicosia has been striving for three years to strip Malaysian fugitive financier Jho Low of his Cyprus passport, wanted internationally for allegedly orchestrating the theft of $4.5 bln from the sovereign wealth fund of his home country.
The Cabinet last week decided to revoke the Cypriot citizenship of Malaysian-born Jho Low after authorities were able to work through legal hiccups and objections filed by a team of lawyers working for the financier on the run.
Low had obtained a Cypriot passport as part of the investment program, even though he was wanted for financial crimes in Malaysia.
He was accused of misappropriating funds from the Malaysian sovereign fund 1MDB and laundering its assets through financial institutions in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, and Luxembourg.
The 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal is a corruption, bribery, and money laundering conspiracy in which the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB was systematically embezzled, with $4.5 bln assets diverted globally by the scheme’s perpetrators.
As reported, the Interior Ministry had Jho Low on a list of investors who would have their Cypriot citizenship stripped in 2021.
“An army of lawyers,” as reported by Phileleftheros daily, had filed objections with the Interior Ministry, delaying the decision.
Ministry sources appeared confident that all legal obstacles to removing Low’s Cypriot passport have been overcome, but they expect that Jho Low could appeal Cyprus’ decision.
An ongoing police probe is looking into the conditions under which the Malaysian financier obtained the golden passport in 2015.
The probe is being carried out by a special police task looking into criminal offences that may have been committed in the passports fiasco.
Reportedly, actions taken by the late Archbishop Chrysostomos were also investigated.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II had admitted to vouching for fugitive Malay businessman Jho Low in his bid to secure a Cyprus passport.
The Archbishopric then said it would return a €310,000 donation if a probe into wealthy investors who were granted a Cypriot passport under the investment scheme discovered wrongdoing.
In 2020, the police force’s Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS) seized the mansion Low bought in Ayia Napa to meet the criteria for naturalisation.
The mansion worth €5 mln is in the Limnara area of Ayia Napa.