NICOSIA – After Cyprus backed away from its stance that recipients of Golden Visas given to rich foreign investors which bring residency permits and European Union passports had been vetted – then yanking 26 of them – the names were released by a newspaper.
Politis published the list after the government would only reveal the nationalities despite coming under withering criticism for the scheme that critics said as open to money laundering and a way for criminals to hide wrongdoing and cash.
The names included those of families of the wealthy investors, including Malaysian Jho Taek Low, a fugitive wanted for his alleged role in the 1MDB scandal — the embezzlement scam uncovered in 2015.
That country’s then-Premier was accused of funneling more than $700 million from a state-run development company, to his personal bank accounts. Since then, other players involved, allegedly including Low, were being tracked by authorities.
Politis’s list adds more detail to a previous report by the news agency Reuters about the government’s plan to react to criticism and revoking the residency permits and passports that allowed free travel within the 28-country EU.
The list includes eight Cambodians with political or familial ties to Cambodia’s current ruling party as well as Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, currently under US Treasury sanctions and who the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in 2018 reported he had obtained Cypriot citizenship.
Also also facing revocation of the passports are multi-millionaire Kenyan businessman Humphrey Kariuki and his wife. He was charged in his country for tax evasion from his his alcohol production and distribution business, said Kenyan news reports.
There are also two Russian bankers on the list who Crime Russia previously noted are wanted in their home country on corruption charges although Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades had staunchly defended the scheme that has brought some $3 billion in investments, including from people critics said “couldn’t find Cyprus on a map.”