The European Commission expressed “disbelief” over new revelations concerning Cyprus’ investment for citizenship scheme, saying that the body is looking into infringement procedures for Nicosia.
“We watched in disbelief how high-level officials were trading European citizenship for financial gains. President von der Leyen was clear when saying that European values are not for sale,” Christian Wigand, the Commission spokesman for Rule of Law, said in a regular briefing on Tuesday.
Wigan said the Commission has frequently raised its “serious concerns” about ‘golden passport’ schemes, and directly with the Cypriot authorities.
The Commission is currently looking into compliance with EU law of the Cypriot scheme in view of possible infringement proceedings, he added.
Cyprus announced unexpectedly on Tuesday that its controversial Citizenship by Investment Program would be abolished, following an emergency cabinet meeting a day after Al Jazeera published a secret video alleging corruption.
Al Jazeera’s latest revelations, that came in the form of a one-hour video depicting an undercover reporter posing as a representative for a wealthy Chinese businessman with a criminal past, put two high-ranking politicians, including the House president Demetris Syllouris and AKEL MP Christakis Giovanis, on the hot seat, as the video showed them offering their support to bypass the hurdle of the imaginary applicant’s conviction for financial crimes.
Responding to the revelations but also to the public outcry, Syllouris offered a public apology and announced that he would abstain from his duties effective Monday, October 19, and until an independent investigation into alleged corruption in the Citizenship by Investment Programme is concluded.
On his part, Famagusta MP Giovanis submitted his resignation to the AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou, who is expected to accept it, with Toumazos Tselepis to take his seat in Parliament.