The trial surrounding Cyprus’s Golden Passport scandal, originally exposed in an investigation by Al Jazeera, has been suspended by the Nicosia criminal court due to changes in the court’s composition. This development has resulted in the acquittal of all four defendants, including former House President Demetris Syllouris, former Akel MP Christakis Giovani, lawyer Andreas Pittajis, and Giovani Group executive Antonis Antoniou, on all charges, at least for the time being.
Elli Papagapiou, the representative of the prosecution, explained that the current case could not proceed due to the change in the court’s composition. As a result, the criminal case will be suspended, and a new one will need to be filed.
Reports from local media suggest that a new charge sheet containing the same charges, including conspiracy to defraud the country and influencing a public official to act against a law that ratifies the Council of Europe Convention on the Criminalisation of Corruption, will be submitted to the Nicosia criminal court.
Deputy Attorney General Savvas Angelides had raised concerns about the case being examined by a new composition of the court. The change in the court’s composition was scheduled for June 30, with the new Court of Appeals expected to officially commence operations on July 1 of this year.
The refiling of the case is expected to occur in the coming days, with court proceedings not anticipated to commence before September of this year, according to the Cyprus News Agency.
The Golden Passport Scheme previously allowed foreign citizens who made a specific investment in Cyprus to obtain citizenship. However, the program was terminated following an Al Jazeera report that exposed various illegal activities associated with it, prompting authorities to swiftly end the program.
In May of this year, the Cyprus Bar Association, a professional body representing over 2,700 advocate members, initiated inspections of 26 law firms in the country. Out of the 26 firms, 16 were found guilty and subjected to fines.
Furthermore, in April of this year, the authorities in Cyprus announced the revocation of passports obtained through the Citizenship by Investment Scheme, known as the Golden Passports Program, from three investors.
Currently, several European countries offer residency and citizenship to third-country nationals through programs such as the Golden Visa and Golden Passport schemes. However, these programs have faced criticism from EU authorities, urging countries to terminate them due to their involvement in illegal activities.
the trial concerning the Cyprus Golden Passport scandal has been temporarily suspended and will be refiled due to changes in the court’s composition. The case will undergo a new proceeding, and the defendants have been acquitted for the time being. The Golden Passport Scheme has been terminated following revelations of illegal affairs, while scrutiny and actions have been taken by authorities to address the situation. European countries offering similar programs have faced criticism, emphasizing the need for increased scrutiny and potential termination to prevent further illegal involvement.
Source: Nomad Capitalist