The Cabinet on Thursday agreed to appoint an independent investigative committee to look into all passports granted through the Cyprus Investment Program from 2008 until July this year, when stricter rules were implemented.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said the Cabinet agreed to suggest to the Attorney-General George Savvides that he shoulders the task of establishing an independent committee to look into all the cases who received Cyprus citizenship through the island’s ‘golden passports’ scheme that has recently the centre of renewed controversy after over 1,400 leaked documents led to a series of scathing articles and video by the international media network Al Jazeera.
The new committee will probe allegations of wrongdoing in the Cyprus Investment Programme, with the Cyprus President stating on Wednesday that the setting of yet another committee aims at “putting an end to unnecessary confrontation” between state agencies and government officials.
Selection of the committee members, as well as its mandate and scope of inquiry, was assigned by the Cabinet to the Attorney General.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, head of the new independent investigative committee will be state prosecutor Elena Zachariadou, while the members of the committee will be the assistant accountant general of the Republic Stelios Kountouris, and the head of the justice department at the ministry of justice, Marianna Patsalidou.
Asked to comment on concerns recently voiced by legal circles over a potential conflict of interest of the Attorney General and his assistant, as both were part of the Cabinet during a period that will within the timeline of investigation, Koushios said “independent investigative committees can be appointed either by the Cabinet or by the Attorney General. The Cabinet agreed to allow the appointment of the committee to be done by the Attorney General, who is the person who can respond to such concerns.”
Savvides, who left his post as justice minister earlier this summer, was serving as justice minister back in November 2019 when the president’s cabinet assigned a three-member committee to look into the investment programme.
The findings of the initial three-member committee set up in 2019 were delivered to Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, Koushios said Thursday. Nouris is tasked will reading over the findings and, in cooperation with Savvides, table suggestions for any actions before the Cabinet during its next get-together.