Cyprus ‘golden passport’ scrapped

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cyprus has decided to scrap its 'golden passport' scheme after a television programme exposed its alleged abuse. AFP

Cyprus said on Tuesday it will scrap its controversial “golden passports” scheme for foreign investors next month over alleged abuses uncovered in a television programme.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said the Cabinet had agreed in an emergency meeting to abolish the scheme as proposed by the finance and interior ministers.

He said: “The proposal of the two ministers was based on long-standing weaknesses, abuse and exploitation of the provisions of the investment programme.”

Koushos said the scheme, which has generated $8.25 billion, would be brought to an end on November 1.

The Cypriot government would “fully examine its policy to encourage investment”, he added, after the completion of an investigation into the scheme.

The move came hours after Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera aired an hour-long programme showing its reporters pretending to represent a Chinese businessman keen to acquire a Cypriot passport despite him having a criminal record.

Al Jazeera reported: “Posing as representatives of a fictitious criminal character, our undercover reporters were ushered through the application process for the Cyprus Investment Programme by lawyers, property agents, leading eventually to high ranking politicians.”

Those involved – a Cypriot lawmaker and the parliament speaker – denied any wrongdoing.

But the lawmaker, Christakis Giovanis, later resigned from parliament and the positions he held in the left-wing AKEL party.

And the speaker, Demetris Syllouris, said he was standing down until a police investigation into the claims was completed.