Cyprus MP demands answers on Cambodia cash-for-passports case

Photo from In-Cyprus
  • Agence France-Presse
  • October 19, 2019 9:25 AM

Nicosia, Cyprus |  Cypriot MP took to social media Thursday over a report that family members and allies of Cambodia’s longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen had obtained EU passports under a citizenship-for-investment scheme.

"We have been ridiculed in the international arena. There is no excuse,” opposition MP Irene Charalambides said on Facebook.

"Where is the line drawn for handing out passports? Until when will we have to keep apologising to international institutions?" she added.

Charalambides, a special representative on fighting corruption for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said the authorities had an obligation to respond to the findings of a Reuters investigation.

The investigation said members of Cambodia's elite had overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars and used their wealth to buy foreign citizenship – a practice the premier has decried as unpatriotic.

Later on Thursday, the interior ministry said in a statement that "the government's policy is not to comment publicly on individual cases".

Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, has said it does not name applicants who receive a "golden passport" through the investment scheme.

In February, it made changes to its lucrative citizenship for investment scheme to make it more "trustworthy" after the European Commission said it could help organised crime gangs infiltrate the bloc.

Under the new criteria, a Cyprus passport is granted in exchange for an investment of 2.5 million euros ($2.8 million), raising it from 2 million euros, including the purchase of a residency.

Nicosia says due diligence procedures are more stringent and effective, such as the scrutiny of each applicant conducted by an international agency.

The scheme was launched in the aftermath of the island's 2013 economic crisis.

© Agence France-Presse

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