Already under fire for a lenient Golden Visa program allowing wealthy foreigners to acquire residency and European Union passports, Cyprus is now being accused by at least three foreign embassies of going easy on fake marriages.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that the government is aware of complaints against local authorities in connection with sham marriages conducted in a number of municipalities in which women from EU countries have civil unions with men from Africa or Asia.
The women are said to be paid for agreeing to the marriages, with the embassies of Romania and Portugal among those complaining about the scam, coming after Latvia last year raised a red flag over the problem.
According to Latvia’s accusations, as reported in the media, the Aradippou local municipality officiated at the civil marriages without obtaining proper documentation, said Kathimerini Cyprus.
Officials in Aradippou were accused of officiating marriages between Latvian women and men from India, Pakistan, and Nepal, while legal documents or marriage licences were never issued by Latvian authorities, the report said.
Other reports said at least one woman married three men on Cyprus using a different name each time but an official from the town said there was no fraud and blaming the Interior Ministry and migration officials.
The government is scheduled to hold a meeting about the issue, with reports saying the discussion will be linked to a wider effort to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking, the paper added over the accounts.