Crime & Justice

Cyprus cancels ‘golden visa’ program after corruption scandal

Nicosia, Oct 13 (efe-epa).- Cyprus announced on Tuesday the end of its “golden visas” program after a scandal involving the sale of passports to a false Chinese investor with a criminal record.

Cyprus’s parliamentary speaker Demetris Syllouris was allegedly involved in the Cyprus Investment Programme which saw documents handed out to individuals who do not meet the criteria necessary to move freely in the European Union.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Kusios said Tuesday after an emergency ministerial meeting that the decision will take effect on 1 November.

It came after Al Jazeera released footage filmed with hidden cameras of Syllouris meeting with undercover journalists who said they represented a fictitious Chinese investor.

The fake investor was portrayed as a successful businessman who had allegedly escaped from China and was sentenced in his absence to seven years in prison for bribery and money laundering.

Journalists met with Syllouris and other officials to negotiate a Cypriot passport for him.

In the video, which lasts almost an hour, Syllouris can apparently be heard saying he will do everything he can to obtain the documents.

“You can tell him that he will have, without mentioning my name or anybody else’s, full support from Cyprus. At any level, political, economic, social, everything,” he says in the footage.

Syllouris issued a statement announcing he will step down from his role until an investigation is completed.

It came after Al Jazeera published The Cyprus Papers in August, a leak of 1,400 documents showing that several individuals had obtained Cypriot citizenship through the investment program despite being convicted criminals or fugitives.

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