The Cyprus Papers

The Cyprus Papers are a batch of leaked documents obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, containing more than 1,400 approved applications for the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP) run by the Republic of Cyprus.

The programme allows people to buy a Cypriot passport, and by extension become European Union citizens, by investing at least 2.15m euros ($2.5m) in the country.

The Cypriot passport allows its holder to travel freely to 174 countries, making the scheme popular with people from nations where visa-free travel is restricted.

The applications Al Jazeera obtained were submitted over two years between 2017 and 2019. Some include family members, which brings the total number of individuals granted European passports to nearly 2,500.

In the coming days, Al Jazeera will reveal the identities of dozens of people who acquired Cypriot citizenship and who, according to the country’s present rules, should not have received the document.”

The article from Aljazeera.com goes on.

“Since 2013, when the passport programme started, the country has made more than 7 billion euros ($8bn), used to keep afloat the nation’s failing economy.”

Those greedy, grasping Cypriots, eh? Caught at last.

Call me controversial, but this scandal is made in Brussels.

In 2012, the Cyprus economy was on the brink of collapse, the seeds of its demise in the US sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007/2008. Cypriot banks took huge losses in the Greek Government debt crisis, and in their loan books to property developers. Cyprus government bond ratings were downgraded to junk. Predictably, the EU had some meetings. Meanwhile, Russia made Cyprus an emergency loan of €2.5 billion.

In true “One for all and all for one” fashion, the EU (with the agreement of the IMF) came up with a cunning wheeze of getting bank depositors to recapitalise the banks. One was wound up, and at Bank of Cyprus, deposits over and above €100,000 were given a haircut of 47.5%.

Jolly good! Citizens robbed by lunchtime and everyone home for mussels and medals by tea-time.

Within weeks, the Cyprus President was telling Russian Businessmen in Limassol that the Cyprus Investment Programme was being revised, making it more accessible.

The EU admitted Cyprus to its ranks, then refused to help it when the chips were down. Faced with collapse and ignominy, Cyprus took the hand offered by Putin. Russia now has deep water port rights and growing influence here. Ultimately, it hasn’t cost him a cent.

Some in Cyprus have profited handsomely, some, no doubt, unethically. However, the loosening of CIP was made inevitable by the short-sighted, counter-productive actions of the Troika (EC, ECB and IMF.)