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12° Nicosia,
29 November, 2022
 
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Interior Ministry aware passport applications did not meet criteria

The Audit Service reports that there were approvals made in the naturalization program that were considered illegal

Source: CNA

The Audit Service's Report on the findings from the investigation into the granting of passports in the context of the investment program run by Cyprus was made public today, Monday, August 22.

According to the report on the naturalization program, references are made to the manner in which passports were granted, stressing that there were cases in which the Ministry was aware that there were applications that did not meet the criteria, consequently resulting in illegal approvals for naturalizations.

In total, from the start of the Program in 2007 until its end, Cypriot citizenship was granted to 3,517 persons who were considered investors and to 3,810 persons who were naturalized as members of their family (as spouses, as adult dependent children and 221 as parents). Moreover, a large number of persons were naturalized as minor children of the above, for whom complete information was not obtained and was not the subject of this audit, it is noted in the Report.

In an extensive report of more than 150 pages, the Audit Service today published its findings, after auditing 3,517 cases of persons naturalized as investors in the Republic of Cyprus, under the Cyprus Investment Program. The report states that many naturalizations were carried out without meeting the criteria of the relevant legislation.  In addition, according to the report, the information given to the Council of Ministers (CoM) and the House of Representatives was incomplete. The report also mentions the loss of a huge amount of public revenue while noting that real estate purchases of €3.5 billion may have been fictitious.

Specifically, the report concluded that of the 3,517 cases of persons who were naturalized as investors, a very large number of naturalizations did not meet the criteria required, owing to the 3,810 persons who were naturalized as relatives of the investors without any relevant authorization in the relevant law.

The report gives particular importance to the fact that there was insufficient information, both from the Council of Ministers (Council of Ministers) and the House of Representatives, about the characteristics of the applications for naturalization. In particular, it is stated that the memos from the officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, with which the Minister of the Interior was informed about the applications that he would have to present before the Cabinet of Ministers, were not attached to the proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers.

"The non-notification of the facts and information contained in the note prepared by the competent official of the Ministry of Interior, either by attaching the same note or by preparing another one with similar content, is reprehensible and illegal since it lacked essential information from the body that had the decisive authority", says the EY report, which emphasizes that the House of Representatives also remained in the dark. The report also mentions that the Supreme Court approved a number of applications, all the while knowing that relevant criteria were not met.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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