Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit procured leaked documents showing a list of ultra-rich individuals who are shady characters in their home country, and currently have EU citizenship issued by Cyprus.
The Cyprus Papers
Leaked documents, aka The Cyprus Papers exposed that hordes of high-level foreign political figures and their families bought these “golden passports.”
The records contain more than 1,400 approved requests for the Cyprus Investment Program (CIP), of the Republic of Cyprus between late 2017 and late 2019.
What’s Wrong With Being Wealthy And Acquiring Another Citizenship?
It is not illegal to acquire new citizenship.
A handful of nations which include Caribbean islands, peddle this service.
The problem with this program is it turns citizenship into a commodity, as per Al Jazeera.
Newly-naturalized citizens will try to slip away from accountability from their countries of origin.
Also, it is rather suspicious why someone who holds a public position in their native country wants to buy second citizenship.
The act leads to another question:
How do these officials acquire at least $2.5m in Cyprus’s economy, one of the golden passport requisites.
“In many countries” the only way “acquire great wealth” is via “illicit” transactions, said Nigel Gould-Davies of UK’s International Institute of Strategic Affairs.
When they have gathered these “sums of money” through those “very problematic” means, they will squirrel away those assets in nations that “enjoy the rule of law,” Gould-Davies added.
Convicted Fraudsters And Political Figures Who Became EU Citizens
These are some frauds and “politically exposed persons” that can travel, work, and bank in all 27 EU member states:
- Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of Afghanistan’s Lower House of Parliament, a former general turned successful businessman by handling fuel and transport contracts between the Afghan government and the US military. He was accused of vote-rigging.
- Pham Phu Quoc, Ho Chi Minh City representative in the Vietnamese Congress
- Igor Reva, a Russian national and a former deputy minister for economic development
- Mykola Zlochevsky, Ukrainian tycoon and owner of the Burisma energy company. He was being investigated in 2017 for corruption at the same time he bought his passport.
- Nikolay Gornovskiy, former boss of the state-owned energy giant Gazprom who was already on Russia’s wanted list for abuse of power. Cyprus approved his application in 2019.
- Zhang Keqiang, a Chinese businessman who received his passport, despite having prison records for a fraudulent share deal.
- Pham Nhat Vu, a Vietnamese businessman whose passport was approved after he was charged with bribery.
The Cypriot Government Beefing Up Its Rules
Cyprus vowed to strip naturalized Cypriots of their citizenship if they are proven guilty of grave misconduct, according to Cyprus Property News.
Last year, Cyprus introduced more stringent rules on citizenship eligibility.
Anyone under investigation wanted, convicted, or under international sanctions is prohibited from buying a passport.