The audit service announced Friday it was launching a probe of the island’s citizenship for investment programme amid the fracas caused by media allegations that passports had been granted to dubious individuals.
In a statement, the service said at a first stage the audit will mainly concentrate on citizenships granted after the programme’s criteria were amended in May 2018, a period which a three-member panel appointed by the cabinet had not been tasked with examining.
This, the statement said, does not preclude the audit service from extending its probe into other time periods, depending on its findings.
No deadline has been set but because of the gravity of the matter, priority will be given to this audit, the service said.
The audit’s objective is to investigate the procedures applied by the ministries of finance and interior in granting citizenships to foreign investors, mainly whether these individuals, and others who were involved in transactions, had been handled properly by the tax department.
The announcement of the audit came amid reports by Qatari state-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera that Cyprus had granted passports to dubious individuals.
The government has vehemently rejected the reports, arguing that the broadcaster was out to smear Cyprus.
According to the audit service, the cabinet in 2019 had decided to conduct checks on individuals granted citizenship before 2018, when the criteria were tightened. It had also decided to appoint a three-member committee tasked with examining the findings of the checks and report back to the cabinet.
Source Cyprus Mail