The Republic of Cyprus’ Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS) has weighed in on the passport scandal following Al Jazeera’s earth-shuttering investigative report on corruption in the island’s Citizenship by Investment programme.
MOKAS issued a statement on Wednesday refuting allegations made by high-powered attorney Andreas Pittadjis, who was caught on tape appearing to offer support to a fictitious foreign investor from China with a criminal background.
Pittadjis, who was recorded by undercover reporters, suggested his law firm could bend the rules by finding loopholes in the system, such as filing an affidavit for a name change for an otherwise illegitimate passport applicant investor whose original name could not be traced because of a gap in the Cypriot system.
'As I was trying to gain their trust, I told them many unjustified things which they published selectively'
The lawyer says he played along because he thought there was something suspicious about the case, saying he was trying to fish out details to pass them on to authorities.
“As I was trying to gain their trust, I told them many unjustified things which they published selectively,” Pittadjis said.
But MOKAS says the contents of a letter received then by Pittadjis’ law firm “was such that not only did it not reveal any financial transaction, but neither did it include any issue over which the Unit would have authority by law.”
The letter was received 29 October 2019, days after the meetings with undercover reporters took place, purportedly after the representatives of the investor left Cyprus without closing the deal or giving any information about the investor.
Pittadjis says the letter proves he had acted in good faith, “wondering, really, was [Al Jazeera] not interested in this report to state authorities?” he wrote in a public statement.
The lawyer said he would be prepared to take legal action but was limited in talking about the contents of his law firm’s letter.
But according to MOKAS, “no report regarding any suspicious financial activity was submitted” through the letter in this case.