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30 May, 2023
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Cyprus president testifies on golden passports

Nicos Anastasiades invited to appear before independent committee probing corruption allegations


Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to testify on Tuesday before the independent committee probing corruption allegations in the country’s golden passport scheme, just days after he lashed out at critics during a national address on the fight against corruption.

The President will appear before the four-member committee Tuesday morning at 10am, at Nicosia’s Filoxenia Conference Center, where he will answer questions about naturalizations of foreign citizens through exceptional categories, including investors through Cyprus’ disgraced Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Last week Anastasiades addressed the public in an unprecedented presidential address, where he used some strong language accusing the opposition of throwing mud over corruption allegations while ignoring his administration’s past efforts to address omissions in the CIP.

The President had stated that his appearance before the committee would give him an opportunity to answer questions and state the facts, alluding in his public speech to problems within naturalizations of foreign investors that existed well before he came into office.

The President says he will have an opportunity to answer questions and state the facts, alluding to past problems within naturalizations that existed before he came into office

But critics also raised questions over the First Lady’s niece, civil servant Maria Adamidou, after it emerged that she had been assigned to the Interior Minister’s office overseeing golden passport applications through the CIP.

Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, who testified before the same committee when hearings used to be held behind closed doors, had cautioned about the ministry appointment of Adamidou, who was described as "essentially a cousin of Anastasiades’ daughters” who head the Limassol-based law firm bearing the President’s name and handling golden passports for clients.

Anastasiades has maintained that both the state’s auditor general as well as members of parliament had known about past problems and never raised objections before Al Jazeera published serious allegations against the CIP, with the President acknowledging that mistakes had been made on his watch but also efforts to improve the programme.

The independent committee is presided by a former Chief Justice and three other civil servants, including Demetra Kalogerou, a former administrator of Cyprus Stock Exchange and current chairwoman for Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kalogerou was appointed by the Cabinet in 2019 to get to the bottom of allegations of corruption linked to foreign investor passports. She chaired an ad hoc committee but with a narrow focus, until the team was disbanded when the state’s attorney general, an ex-Cabinet member, formed the new committee to probe the country’s entire naturalization programme under the exceptional categories including foreign investors.

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