A new documentary by Al Jazeera on football corruption in Britain includes allegations that a Cypriot minister flew to London to arrange paperwork at a consular office for a Russian national who was wanted by Interpol and unable to travel under his real name.
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In a video documentary titled "The Men Who Sell Football" published by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit on Monday, individuals appearing to act as middlemen for foreign persons seeking club ownership in British football, tell undercover reporters how they can hide a person's money sources and identity behind offshore trusts and further manipulate the due-diligence process with English football authorities.
Posing as agents for a fictitious wealthy Chinese national with a criminal background, AJ undercover reporters contacted a middleman who helped them get to the brink of a deal to buy one of England’s oldest football clubs.
The latest video also makes references to Cyprus, which was the subject at hand in a previous AJ video last year. Undercover reporters back then said they had turned their attention on the island after coming across information during their operations in Britain that “dirty tricks” including name changes were being used in connection with the island’s disgraced Citizenship by Investment Program.
It is also alleged that a Cypriot minister flew to London where a Russian businessman who fled his country was stuck in the UK and unable to travel due to an Interpol Red Notice issued on him.
“The minister flew here to the consulate in St. James’ Square and managed to do the whole process there without him stepping foot in Cyprus,” a person caught on hidden camera said.
'The minister flew here to the consulate in St. James’ Square and managed to do the whole process there without him stepping foot in Cyprus'
The same person also suggested the fictitious Chinese businessman could expect a “fairly simple” process in Cyprus, while also alleging that the Cypriot minister was in the loop and often consulted with others involved in similar processes.
“To be fair, we leave it to them after that to do the whole process,” he said, adding later “all unofficial, but he just helps streamline things.”
In last year’s video, undercover reporters in Cyprus had secretly recorded prominent figures on the island, including politicians, who appeared willing to assist the fictitious investor and further boasted to have had government connections in securing golden passports for foreign investors of questionable status or politically-exposed people.
Both videos focus on allegations that name dodging tricks were some of the ways Cypriot lawyers could circumvent the system in the golden passport scheme while also allowing ineligible applicants to travel freely and evade detection by law enforcement authorities.
“They can change their name slightly, which gives them a different identity… we might just change the date of birth slightly,” a person caught on hidden camera said in the latest video.
A somewhat similar description was given in the Cyprus Papers video, when a high-powered attorney also caught on hidden camera suggested it was easy to file a name-change affidavit on the island once a foreign investor was approved for Cypriot citizenship. But he maintained all was done legally.