Sven Giegold
Member of the European Parliament – Greens/EFA Group

Speaker of the German Green Delegation

Leak on Cypriot Golden Passports: Unscrupulous mafia-like structure in EU member state

A new investigative research by Al Jazeera reveals how high-ranking Cypriot politicians, lawyers and real estate companies are involved in the sale of EU passports to convicted non-EU citizens with criminal records. The revelations are part of the “Cyprus Papers” leak, which contains 1,400 documents. Cyprus has programmes for obtaining residence permits and citizenship through investment including real estate purchases. These programmes attract criminals and convicted offenders from around the world and promote money laundering.

MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:

“The revelations show an unscrupulous mafia-like subculture in an EU member state. The sale of EU passports is a blatant violation of EU law. It is shocking how willing Cypriot politicians are to sell EU passports even to criminals. This is not about the misconduct of individuals, but about mafia-like structures that have developed over years. For years, criminal and corrupt persons including their assets, have been given shelter in Cyprus. This practice endangers internal security in Europe. The European anti-money laundering law is written into Cypriot laws, but the reality is quite different.

The entanglement of high-rank Cypriot politicians requires consequences. The EU Commission must immediately initiate infringement proceedings against Cyprus. Previous announcements of the EU Commission have not yet been put into practice. The EU Commission must not wait any longer. Something stinks in Cypriot politics, therefore further measures must be taken. Cyprus should be put on the international list of money laundering states by FATF. In the area of money laundering and financial crime, Cyprus must be considered a non-cooperative state. At least the revelations also show that there is progress in the Cypriot banking sector in the fight against money laundering: While politicians willingly cooperate with criminals, the opening of bank accounts is the central hurdle.

Cyprus is not the only EU country that engages in the sale of passports and visas. Similar structures exist in Malta. In addition to Malta and Cyprus, the EU Commission should also look at the investor programmes of Bulgaria, Portugal and other member states. The sale of passports and visas contradicts the duty of all EU member states to cooperate in a spirit of trust. In the long term, a ban on the sale of citizens’ rights throughout Europe is needed, as demanded by the European Parliament.

Our first action: The Green group has asked to put the sale of passports on the agenda of next week’s plenary of the European Parliament”.

Report and film from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/12/cypriot-politicians-implicated-in-plan-to-sell-criminals-passport 

 

P.S.: Save-the-date: Webinar on financial regulation in the pandemic and beyond with top economists William White and Daniela Gabor. Tuesday, 20 October 2020, 8-10pm CET. Register here now!