Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Golden passport stain thickens


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 he was arrested in custody 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 fourmember 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 EUR 8 bln during its lifespan.

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