The 18 of the 23 passports issued by express procedures under the Cypriot investment program are related to the investment for the creation of the casino, according to what the director-general of the Ministry of Interior, Costas Konstantinou, stated.
The issue of naturalizations was put under the microscope of the audit committee with the members of the committee looking for answers and data regarding the tax revenues that resulted from the implementation of the program and the manipulations of the tax department and the Ministry of Interior.
Answering questions from MPs, Mr. Konstantinou stated that out of the 23 naturalizations for which, based on the control of the audit service, there were instructions to speed up the process by the former Minister of Interior, 18 concern the casino. The petition was made in order to strengthen the argument presented in a previous discussion in the committee of the interior by the Minister of Interior, that the acceleration of the process was done in cases concerning large investments.
Mr. Konstantinos’s report, however, provoked reactions with MPs asking for further details and the Auditor General stating that he would investigate the matter.
The Auditor General once again referred to the findings of the report on the five naturalization cases, but also to issues raised by the audit of the naturalization case of the Saudi-owned private jet investor used by the President of the Republic for his transportation. In this case, as it was said, the naturalization of the investor was accompanied by the naturalization of six of his relatives and 36 dependents. Mr. Michailidis noted that passports were also given to directors of companies with incomes over € 100 thousand.
He also referred to a new refusal of the audit service in the population archive department, which did not concern specific naturalization cases but the control of payment of fees. He expressed the estimate that the income from the fees (€ 2 thousand for submitting a naturalization application and € 5 thousand for issuing a passport) for 917 applications, should amount to approximately € 6.5 million.
The chairman of the audit committee, Zacharias Koulias, called on the Ministry of Interior to submit these data to the committee, as part of the parliamentary audit.
Under control 300 mediators
Speaking before the audit committee, the tax inspector Giannis Tsangaris noted that the simple audit conducted by the audit service, can not demonstrate whether there is a loss of tax revenue, as there are many relationships between the parties involved that need to be examined.
“Our great concern is with the intermediaries who provide various services in relation to the investment program”, said Mr. Tsangaris, stating that at the moment 300 intermediaries are being examined to find out whether they have correctly implemented the legislation according to his interpretation. Department of Taxation.
Mr. Tsangaris pointed out that the dividing lines between whether VAT will be charged or not are thin, as well as the lines between the type of service offered by intermediaries, ie whether these services are administrative or advisory.
Mr. Konstantinou noted that with the new data created by the recent change in the framework governing the Cypriot investment program, there is a reform in the issues of intermediaries and many will be removed from the relevant register.
AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou requested the submission of data on law firms and audit firms that belonged to PEP and were involved in the naturalization process.
In their statements after the meeting, opposition MPs spoke of new reports highlighting the “stench and stench” behind the program, citing the need for accountability.
Ruling party MP Marios Mavridis noted the benefits the program has brought to the economy, supporting growth and surpluses, he said.
By Maria Hampi