Cyprus Allegedly Sells Passports to Criminals and Fugitives, Report says



View of Nicosia. Credit: NewNicosia/Wimikedia commons

Cyprus is giving passports to criminals and people under investigation through the investment program, says an Al Jazeera report, claiming access to documents of 1400 applications that were approved between 2017-2019, a Hellas Journal report says.

The news agency’s initial investigation lists several individuals who appear to have been suspected of illegal acts or were even wanted by police during their acquisition of Cypriot citizenship through the investment program.

Hellas Journal reveals the first names on Al Jazeera’s list with all reservations:

Mykola Zlochevsky: Owner of the energy giant Burisma. According to Al Jazeera, he acquired Cypriot citizenship in 2017 when he was already under investigation for corruption in his country, Ukraine. According to the report, in June 2020, Ukrainian prosecutors accepted a $ 6 million offer to withdraw the investigation. Zlochevsky and Burisma deny knowing about the bribe.

Nikolay Gornovskiy: The Russian former head of energy giant Gazprom, according to the publication, was already on a list for abuse of power when Cyprus approved his application in 2019.

Ali Beglov: He obtained a Cypriot passport of Russian origin despite serving a prison sentence for extortion.

Zhang Keqiang: Chinese businessman who received a Cypriot passport despite spending time in prison for fraud in a share deal.

Pham Nhat Vu: From Vietnam, his application was approved a month after he was accused of giving millions of dollars in bribes in a telecommunications deal. He is currently serving a three-year prison sentence.

It should be noted that Cyprus only recently passed amending bills and regulations that make the investment program even stricter while at the same time paving the way for the revocation of about three passports that had been granted through the program.