NICOSIA – The trial of four people in a passport-for-sale scheme on Cyprus is due to begin Sept. 12 with corruption charges brought against former Parliament President Demetris Syllouris and ex-lawmaker Chirstakis Giovani.
The Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) granted individuals, and even their families European Union passports if they invested at least $2.5 million, but it was criticized for not vetting applicants for criminal activity.
In August 2020, a report published by Al Jazeera said that the program to sell passports to rich foreigners especially benefited Russians, and in a sting operation, the site said that the accused politicians were willing to expedite one for a Chinese convicted money launderer.
Media reports on the island said the four suspects were charged by the Attorney-General with five counts of conspiracy to defraud the country and untoward influence over public officials, also said SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The report of Al Jazeera led authorities in Cyprus to close the program in 2020 after President Nicos Anastasiades kept defending it and claimed that other European Union country programs weren’t being singled out.