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15 April, 2021
 
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Redacted report on golden passports published

Kalogerou probe findings include details about fake documents, names of persons blacked out

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A redacted version of the Kalogerou report on golden passports was made public on Tuesday, amid criticism of the government from opposition parties calling for transparency in probing corruption allegations.

(Click here for an update to the story)

Last week, President Nicos Anastasiades rejected accusations that the government was trying to keep golden passport probes under wraps, saying a redacted version of an initial investigation dubbed the Kalogerou probe would be published on Tuesday.

A three-member committee led by Demetra Kalogerou, chairwoman for Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, looked into a number of high-risk passport applications through Cyprus’ Citizenship by Investment Programme. 

Kalogerou, who has also been asked by the attorney general to serve on a current four-member committee probing golden passports, ended up leading the government’s original attempt tasked by the President’s Cabinet to probe allegations of corruption in a number of foreign investor cases following reports by Al Jazeera.

'High-risk cases were those that emerged in the media through foreign networks coupled with accusations against Cyprus that we granted citizenships while they were serious issues'

Police on Monday said investigations into a number of cases were in their final stages, with additional reports saying criminal charges had not been ruled out. It was understood that foreign investors as well as local professionals were targets in at least two police probes, one in Larnaca and one in Paphos, both based on the Kalogerou findings.

The Kalogerou probe was tasked with examining all CIP naturalizations from 2012 through 2018.

But Kalogerou recently clarified that cases examined included only a small number of applications. It had been reported previously that cases to be probed by the three-member team had been handpicked by the interior ministry, which suspected possible wrongdoing citing their high-risk status and following a number reports in the media.

“High-risk cases were those that surfaced in the media from foreign networks coupled with accusations against Cyprus that we granted citizenships while they had serious issues,” Kalogerou said.

Local media said 12 case files were examined linked to a total of 42 naturalizations. 

Kalgerou previously said she had concluded that seven persons should be recommended for passport revocation while twelve others needed to be further scrutinized. She also revealed recently that she found some documents submitted through the CIP applications were fake.

But police stopped short of saying whether charges would be filed, with spokesperson Christos Andreou saying investigators would take into consideration the opinion of Attorney General George Savvides before deciding on any criminal charges against individuals.

Savvides, who served on the Cabinet last year as justice minster before becoming the state’s chief law enforcer, confirmed he had met with the Chief of Police over the matter, saying a long briefing and consultations took place to ensure careful moves were being made.

The government said it anticipated more findings would maek their way into the public arena, including interim reports from an ongoing investigation, following criticism that reporters have not been allowed to sit in during hearing proceedings.

Anastasiades defended his administration’s commitment to transparency and promised to reveal all information in due time as long as it did not interfere with criminal proceedings or privacy laws.

The government has been at odds with Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, who has been blocked from gaining access to passport files.

Administration officials cite legal advice by Savvides who advised the government not to hand over files, citing independent investigations.

Michaelides says his office has been trying to audit passport files since July 2019.

The Kalogerou findings were published Tuesday, around 1pm, with redactions, such as some blacked out names and other details.

Story has been updated to reflect publication of report

TAGS
Cyprus  |  golden passport  |  Kalogerou  |  Al Jazeera  |  investor  |  corruption  |  police  |  Larnaca  |  Paphos

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