For years people have been complaining about Cyprus’s “golden passport” scheme. Launched in 2013, it offers citizenship to anyone investing €2m in Cypriot property, giving 4,000 members of the global mega-rich residency, voting rights and a back door into Europe.
Earlier this year, President Nicos Anastasiades reacted angrily to claims Cyprus was abusing the practice by handing out passports to corrupt individuals. Far from being a money-laundering paradise, he thundered, Cyprus has the “most stringent” vetting criteria in the EU. How hollow that claim sounds now. After Reuters revealed the identities of dubious recipients, the government has had to take back passports from 26 individuals, including Cambodians suspected of corruption and a Malaysian wanted for fraud. Few took Anastasiades’s protestations seriously, given that his family’s law firm facilitates passport sales. Now, alas, suspicions that Cyprus is a place of “corruption and intrigue” have been amply confirmed. (Philenews, Nicosia)
My personal comment: I was, years ago, stationed in the British military in Cyprus. At the time I had a sneaking sympathy for the Greek Cypriot call for enosis (self- determination). Cyprus was treated by the Brits at the time as a mixture of backwater and aircraft carrier (military and listening base), but corrupt it was not. Is the above what the “freedom fighters” were fighting for? Blatant corruption? And why are so many former colonies now ruled by crooks, authoritarians and people on the make. They were at least left with parliaments, elections and rational laws, however imperfect? But these institutions turned out to have shallow roots. The moral seems to be, “perfect your own garden before you try to tell others how to govern themselves”.