Cyprus: Anti-corruption protests after Al Jazeera passport expose | Europe

Cyprus: Anti-corruption protests after Al Jazeera passport expose | Europe

The protests adopted repeated requires Cyprus’s second in command Demetris Syllouris to step down.

Lots of of individuals have gathered within the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, to protest towards corruption following an investigation by Al Jazeera implicating high-ranking officers in passport gross sales.

The investigation, The Cyprus Papers Undercover, confirmed Speaker of the Home of Representatives Demetris Syllouris and Member of Parliament Christakis Giovanis (additionally known as Giovani) being keen to assist criminals get hold of passports through Cyprus’s citizenship via funding programme.

Reporting from Nicosia, Al Jazeera’s David Harrison mentioned the protesters on Wednesday chanted slogans demanding resignations.

“[They say] they’re sick of corruption,” Harrison mentioned. “They need a cleaner Cyprus, they need these folks out.”

For the reason that investigation’s launch on Monday, the federal government has abolished the funding scheme and Giovanis has resigned from his place.

Nevertheless, Syllouris mentioned he would solely abstain from his duties from October 19, pending the outcomes of an investigation. This announcement led to calls from each inside his personal occasion in addition to the opposition to resign.

On Monday, Cyprus’s President Nicos Anastasiades was caught on digicam, telling journalists to not ask him questions concerning the scandal.

“Don’t point out Al Jazeera to me, so the satan won’t take you,” he was heard saying.

An assistant to Anastasiades later mentioned the president was joking, in response to native media.

Monday’s expose got here after Al Jazeera launched The Cyprus Papers in August, a leak of just about 1,500 passport purposes in Cyprus, which confirmed that the nation bought passports to, amongst others, convicted criminals and folks needed by Interpol.

Passports for traders

The investigation into the sale of Cypriot passports confirmed how the citizenship via funding programme may probably be abused by criminals, so long as sufficient cash was invested.

Utilizing undercover operatives who mentioned they represented a Chinese language businessman who was sentenced to seven years in jail, Al Jazeera managed to rearrange conferences with a number of the nation’s highest-ranking officers.

Regardless of the very fact the conviction ought to disqualify the applicant, Syllouris, Giovanis and a number of other others together with a lawyer and actual property developer, repeatedly informed the undercover operatives that if sufficient cash was invested, the shopper would have the ability to get hold of a Republic of Cyprus passport – and, in flip, grant them entry to European markets.

The citizenship via funding programme has been usually criticised by the European Union and anti-corruption organisations, which have claimed the scheme will increase the chance of cash laundering via Europe’s monetary establishments.

On Tuesday, someday after the investigation was printed, Cyprus abolished its scheme and Lawyer Common George Savvidis introduced an investigation into attainable prison offences.

The European Fee mentioned on Tuesday it “watched in disbelief how high-level officers had been buying and selling European citizenship for monetary beneficial properties”.

It added: “The Fee is presently compliance with EU legislation of the Cypriot scheme in view of attainable infringement proceedings.”

Dutch Member of European Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld informed Al Jazeera: “[The film] absolutely exposes the ‘citizenship by funding’ schemes for what they are surely: a canopy operation for bringing criminals and prison cash into the EU.”

A number of different European international locations equivalent to Malta and Bulgaria have comparable funding programmes in place.

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