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20 July, 2024
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Cyprus' auditor general makes Jiu Jitsu move

Upcoming damning report on Cyprus’ film industry scheme could have ‘golden passport scent’


The audit office is reportedly preparing an unflattering report on Cyprus’ film industry government scheme, with local media suggesting some type of possible connection between newly-established Olivewood and golden passports.

(Click here for an update to the story)

According to Sigmalive, Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides is very close to wrapping up a report on Cyprus’ government cash rebates designed to turn the island into a film industry contender.

The audit office is expected to cover funding procedures and credit arrangements within the scheme, with reports saying there would be 'a scent of golden passports' in the report

A Sigmalive correspondent cited sources saying the audit office was expected to issue a damning report over funding procedures and credit arrangements within the scheme, adding there would be “a scent of golden passports” in the report, a reference believed to be pointing to Cyprus' disgraced Citizenship by Investment Programme.

According to the story, the report will also make specific references to a film made in Cyprus, with all details pointing to Jiu Jitsu, an action-packed martial arts movie shot in Cyprus starring Nicolas Cage. The US release date for the film was November 20.

The news came as Jiu Jitsu got some negative reviews abroad with some critics saying the film never tried to punch above its weight, pointing out that Cage did not appear to be the lead in the film. But others praised the movie for its solid Jiu Jitsu choreography, with some performed by Cage himself much to the delight of devoted fans.

Jiu Jitsu was the first film to use tax-payer money in a government cash rebate scheme aimed at promoting the making of films on the Mediterranean island. The programme includes tax rebates and credit breaks with up to 35% reimbursement for nearly all expenses made in Cyprus.

In December 2019, Cypriot MPs had voiced their concerns over a government request to release remaining funds for the movie, saying they first wanted to check all the information, such as number of people employed, receipts, and proof of legitimate expenses.

The government had asked Parliament to release the rest of the funds, with the finance ministry saying over 200 people were employed through the production company and had to be paid.

Days later the finance committee released funds despite accusations from MPs who said something did not add up in the recently-launched cash rebate scheme.

The audit report is expected to come out sometime this month or early next year, at a time when an ongoing constitutional battle could erupt further between Michaelides and the government over probing Cyprus' golden passports scandal.

The Cypriot government hinted over the weekend it might refer the auditor general to the Supreme Court over “indecent” behaviour, after the audit office published a damning report alleging offences in a Cabinet decision to grant investor passports to individuals without meeting the criteria.


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