KUALA LUMPUR – Cyprus will withdraw the so-called “golden passports” of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho and 25 others after the scheme was suspected as a secret route to EU residency for global elites.
According to the Financial Times, the Cypriot government conceded to inadequate risk assessment in the system that they insist has since been tightened to allay further suspicion.
The country’s interior minister, Constantinos Petrides, said yesterday that the Cyprus cabinet has stressed the need for “strict adherence to the terms and conditions” of the initiative that already granted citizenship to around 4,000 people.
“If there were nine investment cases, concerning 26 people, among 4,000 applications, it is logical that some would be problematic when controls weren’t strict,” Petrides was quoted as saying.
“There were mistakes — it was a mistake not to have criteria, for instance, for high-risk persons.”
On Monday, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said his country should “absolutely” revoke Low or Jho Low’s passport if reports of its existence were verified.
Cypriot authorities have yet to confirm or deny this, but have acknowledged previous reports of Low and Cambodian elites with ties to the Hun Sen authoritarian regime allegedly procuring the “golden passports”.
Low’s case put particular attention on the Cyprus government as he allegedly obtained the passport after the 1MDB financial scandal had already been exposed globally.
Yesterday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador disclosed that Malaysian investigators learned that Low had tried to purchase property under an alias in Cyprus.
Low forfeited nearly US$1 billion in assets allegedly bought using stolen 1MDB funds when he settled the US Justice Department’s civil suit against him last week.
However, he remains wanted on criminal charges in Malaysia, the US, and Singapore.
– Malay Mail