The Cyprus Papers
At a time when global income inequality is growing, investigative journalists regularly lend credence to the age-old proverb that money corrupts and the Cyprus papers were no exception. With multiple data dumps shedding light on offshore accounts shielding billions of dollars from taxation and the public becoming more aware of the privileges afforded to the wealthiest elite, Al Jazeera has now exposed how wealthy criminals are playing the system to access EU markets and protection. In 2020, investigators working for Al Jazeera uncovered a trove of documents related to Cyprus’s Citizen Investment Program. Through these documents, it became clear that wealthy individuals from around the world—including criminals and authoritarian leaders—were using their financial sway to purchase EU passports and gain access to the protections granted to EU citizens. Much like the Panama Papers, Pandora Papers, and Paradise Papers, the Cyprus Papers expose the global elite and their continued efforts to circumvent the laws that everyday people are beholden to. In this article, we’ll explain what the Cyprus Papers uncovered and break down why they matter so much.
What Do the Cyprus Papers Contain?
The Cyprus Papers is a collection of more than 2,500 leaked documents that were obtained by Al Jazeera in 2020. The documents pertain to Cyprus’s so-called “Golden Passports” scheme, which grants EU citizenship to individuals who make a financial investment in the country. The scheme, which was introduced in 2013, has reportedly generated €4 billion for Cyprus. However, the leaked documents suggest that the scheme has been used by individuals with questionable backgrounds to gain access to the EU. Specifically, the documents implicate 119 politicians, businessmen, and criminals from 74 countries who have used the scheme to obtain Cypriot passports. The list of individuals implicated in the scheme includes the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, as well as the brother of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. In addition to politicians and businessmen, the list of individuals implicated in the scheme also includes individuals with links to organized crime. For example, one of the individuals named in the documents is Vitaly Orlov, a Russian businessman who has been convicted of money laundering in the United States. The documents also implicate a number of individuals sanctioned by the United States government, such as Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Russian businessman sanctioned for his involvement in the Syrian conflict, as well as a member of the bin Laden family.
Why Do the Cyprus Papers Matter?
The Cyprus Papers matter because they shine a light on how global elites are able to leverage their wealth for protection in a way that average citizens cannot. By simply paying $2.5 million, criminals, terrorists, and dictators have been granted direct access to the world’s third-largest economy, with the foreknowledge that they’re likely to launder their dirty money there. This also comes at a time when income inequality is growing globally. In recent years, there have been a number of substantial data dumps that have uncovered the offshore accounts of the world’s wealthiest individuals, such as the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, which both revealed that a number of world leaders were using offshore accounts to invest and hide their wealth from taxation. In the wake of the document’s publication, Al Jazeera has noted that the Cyprus Papers raise serious questions about due diligence carried out by the Cypriot authorities when granting citizenship. By awarding passports to anyone willing to pay, the Cypriot government has unwittingly signaled to the world’s criminal elements that it will accept their behavior as long as they have money to invest.
What Has Cyprus Done to Address These Issues?
The Cyprus Papers come at a time when the European Union is facing a number of challenges, including Brexit, the rise of nationalism, and the coronavirus pandemic. As the European Union grapples with these challenges, the Cyprus Papers provide an important reminder of the need for reform. In response, the European Commission has launched an investigation into the scheme, specifically whether Cyprus has been acting in compliance with EU regulations. In a statement, the Commission said that it will “assess whether the granting of Cypriot nationality in exchange for financial investments is in line with EU rules.” The Commission’s investigation is still ongoing, but the Cyprus Papers have already had a number of repercussions. For example, in October 2020, the country’s parliament voted to abolish the scheme, with the government saying that it would be replaced with a “more stringent” program. In addition, a number of individuals who had obtained Cypriot passports through the scheme have had their citizenships revoked, including 9 Russian oligarchs, 8 politicians linked to the ruling single-party of Cambodia, and 5 Chinese businessmen. This number has since increased in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in accordance with EU sanctions against the Russian Federation.
Are Cyprus’s Reforms Enough?
In spite of legal actions taken by the EU against the Golden Passport scheme, Cyprus continued to honor dozens of passports granted to questionable investors from around the world. Many of these individuals were considered politically exposed, prone to bribery, or had even been convicted of a crime. Nevertheless, no one has been convicted of a crime as a result of the Golden Passport program and the majority of the passport recipients continue to enjoy the benefits of their investments. Except for a select few individuals sanctioned under EU and American law, virtually all awardees have been allowed to keep their passports. Since the Papers were published, the EU has been unable to ban the practice, but Cyprus has promised to not reinstate the scheme. That being said, though, Malta, Belgium, Austria, Greece, Italy, and several other prominent European countries continue to offer similar Golden visas and passports.
The Bottom Line about the Cyprus Papers
The Cyprus Papers are a prime example of investigative journalism holding power to account. By shining a light on the murky world of offshore accounts and citizenship schemes, the Cyprus Papers have put pressure on the EU to tighten its rules and regulations. And while the fallout is still ongoing, the Cyprus Papers have already had a number of tangible impacts.
The Privacy World difference
As you can see, people remain to be in the clear when it comes to keeping their investments (newly acquired citizenship), no matter how much exposure the program you participated in gets. Having said that, keeping your name out of the papers is ALWAYS a great idea. Here at Privacy World, we do absolutely everything to ensure that no matter what leak your CBI or other Government-approved programs you were involved with; your name will never appear anywhere and that your identity is protected. By becoming our client, you will enjoy this privilege that goes way beyond just marketing CBI programs to you. We evaluate your individual case and provide you with customized solutions that will create the ultimate identity protection for you and your family. Want to know more about how we conduct business? Read more on our philosophy of “Think small, GO BIG!“.
We currently have NO CLIENTS reported to have been exposed in this leak.
Why weren’t they affected at all?
Why weren’t they affected at all?
The answer to finding out is by contacting our company now for your next residency or citizenship need. Our consultants and legal experts custom tailor a solution for you that not only achieves what you are looking for but do it with additional levels of built-in privacy in mind so that even if the secret is out, you will have a tremendous chance of not being exposed. Work with us and get all the legal and strategic privacy you can possibly attain at this day and age. Join us and see the difference Privacy World can bring to your life!