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12° Nicosia,
30 May, 2024
 
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Defendants acquitted in first 'golden passports' trial

The Court acquitted five individuals and four legal entities of the total of 36 charges they faced

Source: CNA

Nine defendants—5 people and 4 legal entities—were cleared and released from the 36 charges they were facing in the case involving the exceptional naturalization of foreign applicants by the Larnaca-Famagusta Permanent Criminal Court, which convened today, Friday, November 4. This decision was based on the Kalogeros ruling.

The unanimous ruling of the Court was 252 pages long.

In the judgment of the Court, which was read in part in the courtroom, it was stated that "the Prosecution has elevated the issue at stake to a matter of facts."

The Court stated in writing that "All charges shared the fact that the name T.N. was a false identity and the name M.E. was a real one, with the exception of charges 33 and 34, which dealt with a cover-up, and charges 36, which dealt with money laundering. However, the applicant for naturalization had a passport bearing the name T.N. from the Commonwealth of Dominica."

It is also worth noting that "In the Court's judgment, the failure to prove that the Commonwealth of Dominica passport in the name of T.N. contained false information or was a forgery resulted in the failure to prove an element of the charges and, as a result, the accused's acquittal. The basic criteria for a document to be classified as a forgery for the purposes of the forgery offense is that it appears to be something that it is not in relation to the person who drew it up, its origin, or its history, which was not the case in this case."

Nonetheless, always in accordance with the Court's decision, "It was never proven that the defendants or any of them knew T.N. was M.E./M.R. at the time they were charged with the offenses. Furthermore, in relation to count 25, which was a forgery of an official document, the Court dismissed the charge on the grounds that the application for naturalization was not one of the official documents."

Still "as to counts 31, 32, 33 and 34 for concealment, the Court held that on the one hand, because it was not specified in the particulars of the charges what the predicate offense was, there was no offense and on the other hand, even if it were accepted that it meant, as alleged by certain Iranian persons, embezzlement or theft by T. N., the predicate offense was not proved due to the absence of evidence, either for prosecution or for the existence of an indictment for the commission of the offenses in question, much less for the commission of the predicate offense."

Additionally, the Court said in its statement "Due to the inability to establish the generating offenses of counts 4 through 30, which were a component of count 36's offense, the money laundering count was dismissed. Additionally, it is incorrect to attribute T.N.'s payments to defendants 1, 2, and 6 and 8 as part of the proceeds of illegal activity because T.N. was a shareholder in several of the companies in question. Because of this, any money paid by T.N. to the defendants cannot be allocated proportionally based on the percentage of shares T.N. owned in the various companies."

It should be noted that "the Prosecution has reduced the question at issue to a fact," according to the Court of Cassation's judgment, which was partially read in court.

The statement stated specifically that "the Court acquitted defendants 1 and 2 on three counts of conspiracy to defraud, eleven counts of forging a document, eleven counts of disseminating a forged document, one count of obtaining registration by false representation, four counts of providing false information about a client, four counts of concealing property obtained by unlawful means, and one count of money laundering."

Additionally, the Court acquitted and released "defendant 3 on two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, four counts of document forgery, four counts of disseminating a forged document, one count of obtaining registration through false representations, and one count of disseminating false information about a customer."

In spite of this, the Court cleared and released "the defendant 4 on two counts of conspiracy to defraud, ten counts of document forgery, one count of obtaining registration through false representations, four counts of providing false information about a customer, and four counts of concealing property obtained by unlawful means."

The Court also stated in its written statement that it cleared defendant 5 of all charges related to conspiracy to commit fraud, obtaining registration through false pretenses, forging official documents, and disseminating forgeries. On two counts of conspiring to commit fraud, six counts of forging a document, six counts of disseminating a document, two counts of spreading false information about a client, four counts of concealing property obtained illegally, and one count of money laundering, defendant 6 was also cleared and released.

The Court also cleared and released "defendant 7" on two counts of concealing property obtained illegally and one count each of conspiracy to defraud, document forgery, document distribution, and four counts of giving false information about a customer. Additionally, defendant 8 was cleared of all charges and released on two counts of giving false information about a client and one count each of money laundering and five counts each of document forgery, distribution, and circulation.

The Court also cleared and released "defendant 9 on one count of conspiracy to defraud, four counts of forging a document, four counts of disseminating a forged document, three counts of providing false information about a customer, and one count of concealing property obtained illegally" (additional information).

Statement from the company that was cleared of wrongdoing

The company that was cleared of wrongdoing, however, stated in a written statement that "The Court's unanimous decision today ends a prosecution that was unjustified and inadmissible from the start. This case involved a naturalization, which we had reported to the authorities to intervene in March 2019, at an unknown time, but they did not do anything about it. It was not about corruption or fraud ".

The statement added "Afterward, a deliberate effort was made to be used by the authorities to defuse what was unacceptable and scandalous that occurred in relation to foreigner naturalizations. As always, we have cooperated with the authorities and acted in total transparency.
Moreover, y, the statement continued "The Cypriot justice system's response to those who attempted to cast doubt on our integrity in order to further their own interests was our complete vindication. We are a law firm, and we only act to protect the rights of our partners and clients ".

The firm's statement states that this, "As we have been doing for 45 years, we will continue to act with zeal, integrity, independence, professionalism, dignity, and a commitment to the law. 

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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